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1.
J Clin Invest ; 132(2)2022 01 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1633624

ABSTRACT

Memory B cells (MBCs) can provide a recall response able to supplement waning antibodies (Abs) with an affinity-matured response better able to neutralize variant viruses. We studied a cohort of elderly care home residents and younger staff (median age of 87 years and 56 years, respectively), who had survived COVID-19 outbreaks with only mild or asymptomatic infection. The cohort was selected because of its high proportion of individuals who had lost neutralizing antibodies (nAbs), thus allowing us to specifically investigate the reserve immunity from SARS-CoV-2-specific MBCs in this setting. Class-switched spike and receptor-binding domain (RBD) tetramer-binding MBCs persisted 5 months after mild or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, irrespective of age. The majority of spike- and RBD-specific MBCs had a classical phenotype, but we found that activated MBCs, indicating possible ongoing antigenic stimulation or inflammation, were expanded in the elderly group. Spike- and RBD-specific MBCs remained detectable in the majority of individuals who had lost nAbs, although at lower frequencies and with a reduced IgG/IgA isotype ratio. Functional spike-, S1 subunit of the spike protein- (S1-), and RBD-specific recall was also detectable by enzyme-linked immune absorbent spot (ELISPOT) assay in some individuals who had lost nAbs, but was significantly impaired in the elderly. Our findings demonstrate that a reserve of SARS-CoV-2-specific MBCs persists beyond the loss of nAbs but highlight the need for careful monitoring of functional defects in spike- and RBD-specific B cell immunity in the elderly.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Immunologic Memory , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Immunoglobulin Class Switching , Male , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
2.
J Clin Invest ; 132(2)2022 01 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1541976

ABSTRACT

Memory B cells (MBCs) can provide a recall response able to supplement waning antibodies (Abs) with an affinity-matured response better able to neutralize variant viruses. We studied a cohort of elderly care home residents and younger staff (median age of 87 years and 56 years, respectively), who had survived COVID-19 outbreaks with only mild or asymptomatic infection. The cohort was selected because of its high proportion of individuals who had lost neutralizing antibodies (nAbs), thus allowing us to specifically investigate the reserve immunity from SARS-CoV-2-specific MBCs in this setting. Class-switched spike and receptor-binding domain (RBD) tetramer-binding MBCs persisted 5 months after mild or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, irrespective of age. The majority of spike- and RBD-specific MBCs had a classical phenotype, but we found that activated MBCs, indicating possible ongoing antigenic stimulation or inflammation, were expanded in the elderly group. Spike- and RBD-specific MBCs remained detectable in the majority of individuals who had lost nAbs, although at lower frequencies and with a reduced IgG/IgA isotype ratio. Functional spike-, S1 subunit of the spike protein- (S1-), and RBD-specific recall was also detectable by enzyme-linked immune absorbent spot (ELISPOT) assay in some individuals who had lost nAbs, but was significantly impaired in the elderly. Our findings demonstrate that a reserve of SARS-CoV-2-specific MBCs persists beyond the loss of nAbs but highlight the need for careful monitoring of functional defects in spike- and RBD-specific B cell immunity in the elderly.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Immunologic Memory , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Immunoglobulin Class Switching , Male , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
3.
Lancet Healthy Longev ; 2(12): e811-e819, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1541059

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Understanding the duration of protection and risk of reinfection after natural infection is crucial to planning COVID-19 vaccination for at-risk groups, including care home residents, particularly with the emergence of more transmissible variants. We report on the duration, neutralising activity, and protection against the alpha variant of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection in care home residents and staff infected more than 6 months previously. METHODS: We did this prospective observational cohort surveillance in 13 care homes in Greater London, England. All staff and residents were included. Staff and residents had regular nose and throat screening for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR according to national guidelines, with ad hoc testing of symptomatic individuals. From January, 2021, antigen lateral flow devices were also used, but positive tests still required RT-PCR confirmation. Staff members took the swab samples for themselves and the residents. The primary outcome was SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR positive primary infection or reinfection in previously infected individuals, as determined by previous serological testing and screening or diagnostic RT-PCR results. Poisson regression and Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate protective effectiveness of previous exposure. SARS-CoV-2 spike, nucleoprotein, and neutralising antibodies were assessed at multiple timepoints as part of the longitudinal follow-up. FINDINGS: Between April 10 and Aug 3, 2020, we recruited and tested 1625 individuals (933 staff and 692 residents). 248 participants were lost to follow-up (123 staff and 125 residents) and 1377 participants were included in the follow-up period to Jan 31, 2021 (810 staff and 567 residents). There were 23 reinfections (ten confirmed, eight probable, five possible) in 656 previously infected individuals (366 staff and 290 residents), compared with 165 primary infections in 721 susceptible individuals (444 staff and 277 residents). Those with confirmed reinfections had no or low neutralising antibody concentration before reinfection, with boosting of titres after reinfection. Kinetics of binding and neutralising antibodies were similar in older residents and younger staff. INTERPRETATION: SARS-CoV-2 reinfections were rare in older residents and younger staff. Protection from SARS-CoV-2 was sustained for longer than 9 months, including against the alpha variant. Reinfection was associated with no or low neutralising antibody before reinfection, but significant boosting occurred on reinfection. FUNDING: Public Health England.

4.
Lancet Reg Health Eur ; 3: 100038, 2021 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1192394

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Care homes have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We investigated the potential role of asymptomatic infection and silent transmission in London care homes that reported no cases of COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic. METHODS: Five care homes with no cases and two care homes reporting a single case of COVID-19 (non-outbreak homes) were investigated with nasal swabbing for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR and serology for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies five weeks later. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) was performed on RT-PCR positive samples. Serology results were compared with those of six care homes with recognised outbreaks. FINDINGS: Across seven non-outbreak homes, 718 (387 staff, 331 residents) individuals had a nasal swab and 651 (386 staff, 265 residents) had follow-up serology. Sixteen individuals (13 residents, 3 staff) in five care homes with no reported cases were RT-PCR positive (care home positivity rates, 0 to 7.6%) compared to 13 individuals (3.0 and 10.8% positivity) in two homes reporting a single case.Seropositivity across these seven homes varied between 10.7-56.5%, with four exceeding community seroprevalence in London (14.8%). Seropositivity rates for staff and residents correlated significantly (rs 0.84, [95% CI 0.51-0.95] p <0.001) across the 13 homes. WGS identified multiple introductions into some homes and silent transmission of a single lineage between staff and residents in one home. INTERPRETATION: We found high rates of asymptomatic infection and transmission even in care homes with no COVID-19 cases. The higher seropositivity rates compared to RT-PCR positivity highlights the true extent of the silent outbreak. FUNDING: PHE.

5.
Euro Surveill ; 26(5)2021 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1067625

ABSTRACT

Two London care homes experienced a second COVID-19 outbreak, with 29/209 (13.9%) SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR-positive cases (16/103 residents, 13/106 staff). In those with prior SARS-CoV-2 exposure, 1/88 (1.1%) individuals (antibody positive: 87; RT-PCR-positive: 1) became PCR-positive compared with 22/73 (30.1%) with confirmed seronegative status. After four months protection offered by prior infection against re-infection was 96.2% (95% confidence interval (CI): 72.7-99.5%) using risk ratios from comparison of proportions and 96.1% (95% CI: 78.8-99.3%) using a penalised logistic regression model.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/prevention & control , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Nursing Homes/statistics & numerical data , Reinfection/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19 Serological Testing , Female , Humans , London , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Whole Genome Sequencing
7.
Lancet Reg Health Eur ; 2: 100015, 2021 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-988715

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Military personnel in enclosed societies are at increased risk of respiratory infections. We investigated an outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in a London Army barracks early in the pandemic. METHODS: Army personnel, their families and civilians had nasal and throat swabs for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) by reverse transcriptase -polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), virus isolation and whole genome sequencing, along with blood samples for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. All tests were repeated 36 days later. FINDINGS: During the first visit, 304 (254 Army personnel, 10 family members, 36 civilians, 4 not stated) participated and 24/304 (8%) were SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR positive. Infectious virus was isolated from 7/24 (29%). Of the 285 who provided a blood sample, 7% (19/285) were antibody positive and 63% (12/19) had neutralising antibodies. Twenty-two (22/34, 64%) individuals with laboratory-confirmed infection were asymptomatic. Nine SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR positive participants were also antibody positive but those who had neutralising antibodies did not have infectious virus. At the second visit, no new infections were detected, and 13% (25/193) were seropositive, including 52% (13/25) with neutralising antibodies. Risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 antibody positivity included contact with a confirmed case (RR 25.2; 95% CI 14-45), being female (RR 2.5; 95% CI 1.0-6.0) and two-person shared bathroom (RR 2.6; 95% CI 1.1-6.4). INTERPRETATION: We identified high rates of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. Public Health control measures can mitigate spread but virus re-introduction from asymptomatic individuals remains a risk. Most seropositive individuals had neutralising antibodies and infectious virus was not recovered from anyone with neutralising antibodies. FUNDING: PHE.

8.
EClinicalMedicine ; 28: 100597, 2020 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-912161

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: We investigated six London care homes experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak and found high rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection among residents and staff. Here we report follow-up investigations including antibody testing in the same care homes five weeks later. METHODS: Residents and staff in the initial investigation had a repeat nasal swab for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR and a blood test for SARS CoV-2 antibodies using ELISA based on SARS-CoV-2 native viral antigens derived from infected cells and virus neutralisation. FINDINGS: Of the 518 residents and staff in the initial investigation, 186/241 (77.2%) surviving residents and 208/254 (81.9%) staff underwent serological testing. Almost all SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR positive residents and staff were seropositive five weeks later, whether symptomatic (residents 35/35, 100%; staff, 22/22, 100%) or asymptomatic (residents 32/33, 97.0%; staff 21/22, 95.5%). Symptomatic but SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR negative residents and staff also had high seropositivity rates (residents 23/27, 85.2%; staff 18/21, 85.7%), as did asymptomatic RT-PCR negative individuals (residents 61/91, 67.0%; staff 95/143, 66.4%). Neutralising antibody was detected in 118/132 (89.4%) seropositive individuals and was not associated with age or symptoms. Ten residents (10/79 re-tested, 12.7%) remained RT-PCR positive but with higher RT-PCR cycle threshold values; 7/10 had serological testing and all were seropositive. New infections were detected in three residents and one staff. INTERPRETATION: RT-PCR provides a point prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection but significantly underestimates total exposure in outbreak settings. In care homes experiencing large COVID-19 outbreaks, most residents and staff had neutralising SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, which was not associated with age or symptoms. FUNDING: PHE.

9.
J Infect ; 81(4): 621-624, 2020 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-801950

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Care homes have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to suffer large outbreaks even when community infection rates are declining, thus representing important pockets of transmission. We assessed occupational risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection among staff in six care homes experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak during the peak of the pandemic in London, England. METHODS: Care home staff were tested for SARS-COV-2 infection by RT-PCR and asked to report any symptoms, their contact with residents and if they worked in different care homes. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) was performed on RT-PCR positive samples. RESULTS: In total, 53 (21%) of 254 staff were SARS-CoV-2 positive but only 12/53 (23%) were symptomatic. Among staff working in a single care home, SARS-CoV-2 positivity was 15% (2/13), 16% (7/45) and 18% (30/169) in those reporting no, occasional and regular contact with residents. In contrast, staff working across different care homes (14/27, 52%) had a 3.0-fold (95% CI, 1.9-4.8; P<0.001) higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 positivity than staff working in single care homes (39/227, 17%). WGS identified SARS-CoV-2 clusters involving staff only, including some that included staff working across different care homes. CONCLUSIONS: SARS-CoV-2 positivity was significantly higher among staff working across different care homes than those who were working in the same care home. We found local clusters of SARS-CoV-2 infection between staff only, including those with minimal resident contact. Infection control should be extended for all contact, including those between staff, whilst on care home premises.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Homes for the Aged/statistics & numerical data , Medical Staff/statistics & numerical data , Nursing Homes/statistics & numerical data , Occupational Exposure/adverse effects , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Betacoronavirus/genetics , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , England/epidemiology , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , Infection Control/methods , London/epidemiology , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , SARS-CoV-2 , Whole Genome Sequencing
11.
EClinicalMedicine ; 26: 100533, 2020 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-753678

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Care homes are experiencing large outbreaks of COVID-19 associated with high case-fatality rates. We conducted detailed investigations in six London care homes reporting suspected COVID-19 outbreaks during April 2020. METHODS: Residents and staff had nasal swabs for SARS CoV-2 testing using RT-PCR and were followed-up for 14 days. They were categorized as symptomatic, post-symptomatic or pre-symptomatic if they had symptoms at the time of testing, in the two weeks before or two weeks after testing, respectively, or asymptomatic throughout. Virus isolation and whole genome sequencing (WGS) was also performed. FINDINGS: Across the six care homes, 105/264 (39.8%) residents were SARS CoV-2 positive, including 28 (26.7%) symptomatic, 10 (9.5%) post-symptomatic, 21 (20.0%) pre-symptomatic and 46 (43.8%) who remained asymptomatic. Case-fatality at 14-day follow-up was highest among symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 positive residents (10/28, 35.7%) compared to asymptomatic (2/46, 4.3%), post-symptomatic (2/10, 20.0%) or pre-symptomatic (3/21,14.3%) residents. Among staff, 53/254 (20.9%) were SARS-CoV-2 positive and 26/53 (49.1%) remained asymptomatic. RT-PCR cycle-thresholds and live-virus recovery were similar between symptomatic/asymptomatic residents/staff. Higher RT-PCR cycle threshold values (lower virus load) samples were associated with exponentially decreasing ability to recover infectious virus (P<0.001). WGS identified multiple (up to 9) separate introductions of different SARS-CoV-2 strains into individual care homes. INTERPRETATION: A high prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 positivity was found in care homes residents and staff, half of whom were asymptomatic and potential reservoirs for on-going transmission. A third of symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 residents died within 14 days. Symptom-based screening alone is not sufficient for outbreak control. FUNDING: None.

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