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1.
Sci Immunol ; : eade9888, 2022 Nov 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2193420

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant and its sublineages show pronounced viral escape from neutralizing antibodies elicited by vaccination or prior SARS-CoV-2 variant infection owing to over 30 amino acid alterations within the spike (S) glycoprotein. Breakthrough infection of vaccinated individuals with Omicron sublineages BA.1 and BA.2 is associated with distinct patterns of cross-neutralizing activity against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs). In continuation of our previous work, we characterized the effect of Omicron BA.4/BA.5 S glycoprotein exposure on the neutralizing antibody response upon breakthrough infection in vaccinated individuals and upon variant-adapted booster vaccination in mice. We found that immune sera from triple mRNA-vaccinated individuals with subsequent breakthrough infection during the Omicron BA.4/BA.5 wave showed cross-neutralizing activity against previous Omicron variants BA.1, BA.2, BA.2.12.1, and BA.4/BA.5 itself. Administration of a prototypic BA.4/BA.5-adapted mRNA booster vaccine to mice following SARS-CoV-2 wild-type strain-based primary immunization is associated with broader cross-neutralizing activity than a BA.1-adapted booster. While the Omicron BA-1-adapted mRNA vaccine in a bivalent format (wild-type + BA.1) broadens cross-neutralizing activity relative to the BA.1 monovalent booster, cross-neutralization of BA.2 and descendants is more effective in mice boosted with a bivalent wild-type + BA.4/BA.5 vaccine. In naïve mice primary immunization with the bivalent wild-type + Omicron BA.4/BA.5 vaccine induces strong cross-neutralizing activity against Omicron VOCs and previous variants. These findings suggest that when administered as boosters, mono- and bivalent Omicron BA.4/BA.5-adapted vaccines enhance neutralization breadth, and that the bivalent version also has the potential to confer protection to individuals with no pre-existing immunity against SARS-CoV-2.

2.
Viruses ; 15(2):271, 2023.
Article in English | MDPI | ID: covidwho-2200893

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic remains a global health threat and novel antiviral strategies are urgently needed. SARS-CoV-2 employs the cellular serine protease TMPRSS2 for entry into lung cells, and TMPRSS2 inhibitors are being developed for COVID-19 therapy. However, the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant, which currently dominates the pandemic, prefers the endo/lysosomal cysteine protease cathepsin L over TMPRSS2 for cell entry, raising doubts as to whether TMPRSS2 inhibitors would be suitable for the treatment of patients infected with the Omicron variant. Nevertheless, the contribution of TMPRSS2 to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the infected host is largely unclear. In this study, we show that the loss of TMPRSS2 strongly reduced the replication of the Beta variant in the nose, trachea and lung of C57BL/6 mice, and protected the animals from weight loss and disease. The infection of mice with the Omicron variant did not cause disease, as expected, but again, TMPRSS2 was essential for efficient viral spread in the upper and lower respiratory tract. These results identify the key role of TMPRSS2 in SARS-CoV-2 Beta and Omicron infection, and highlight TMPRSS2 as an attractive target for antiviral intervention.

4.
iScience ; : 105944, 2023.
Article in English | ScienceDirect | ID: covidwho-2165435

ABSTRACT

Summary Reliable, easy-to-handle phenotypic screening platforms are needed for the identification of anti-SARS-CoV-2 compounds. Here, we present caspase 3/7 activity as a read-out for monitoring the replication of SARS-CoV-2 isolates from different variants, including a remdesivir-resistant strain, and of other coronaviruses in numerous cell culture models, independently of cytopathogenic effect formation. Compared to other models, the Caco-2 subline Caco-2-F03 displayed superior performance. It possesses a stable SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility phenotype and does not produce false-positive hits due to drug-induced phospholipidosis. A proof-of-concept screen of 1796 kinase inhibitors identified known and novel antiviral drug candidates including inhibitors of PHGDH, CLK-1, and CSF1R. The activity of the PHGDH inhibitor NCT-503 was further increased in combination with the HK2 inhibitor 2-deoxy-D-glucose, which is in clinical development for COVID-19. In conclusion, caspase 3/7 activity detection in SARS-CoV-2-infected Caco-2-F03 cells provides a simple phenotypic high-throughput screening platform for SARS-CoV-2 drug candidates that reduces false positive hits.

5.
International Journal of Infectious Diseases ; 2022.
Article in English | ScienceDirect | ID: covidwho-2165391

ABSTRACT

Background : Regarding reactogenicity and immunogenicity, heterologous COVID-19 vaccination regimens are considered as alternative to conventional immunisation schemes. Methods : Individuals receiving either heterologous [ChAdOx1-S (AstraZeneca, Cambridge, UK)/BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech, Mainz, Germany)] (n=306) or homologous [mRNA-1273 (Moderna, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA] (n=139) vaccination were asked to participate when receiving their second dose. Reactogenicity was assessed after 1 month, immunogenicity after 1, 3 and/or 6 months, including a third dose, via SARS-CoV-2 anti-Spike IgG, surrogate virus neutralisation test (sVNT) and a plaque reduction neutralisation test (PRNT) against the delta (B.1.167.2) and omicron (B.1.1.529;BA.1) variants of concern (VOCs). Results : Overall reactogenicity was lower after heterologous vaccination. In both cohorts, SARS-CoV-2 anti-Spike IgG concentrations waned over time to low neutralising levels in the delta PRNT after 6 months, where heterologous vaccination demonstrated higher neutralising activity than homologous mRNA vaccination. At this point, 3.2% of the heterologous and 11.4% of the homologous cohort yielded low neutralising activity against omicron. After a third dose of an mRNA-vaccine, ≥99% of vaccinees demonstrated positive neutralising activity against delta. Depending on the vaccination scheme and against omicron, 55.6% to 87.5% of vaccinees demonstrated positive neutralising activity. Conclusions : ChAdOx1-S/BNT162b2 vaccination demonstrated an acceptable reactogenicity and immunogenicity profile. A third dose of an mRNA-vaccine is necessary to maintain neutralising activity against SARS-CoV-2. However, VOC adapted versions of the vaccines would be desirable.

7.
PLoS Biol ; 20(11): e3001871, 2022 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2119367

ABSTRACT

Epidemiological data demonstrate that Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants of concern (VOCs) Alpha and Delta are more transmissible, infectious, and pathogenic than previous variants. Phenotypic properties of VOC remain understudied. Here, we provide an extensive functional study of VOC Alpha replication and cell entry phenotypes assisted by reverse genetics, mutational mapping of spike in lentiviral pseudotypes, viral and cellular gene expression studies, and infectivity stability assays in an enhanced range of cell and epithelial culture models. In almost all models, VOC Alpha spread less or equally efficiently as ancestral (B.1) SARS-CoV-2. B.1. and VOC Alpha shared similar susceptibility to serum neutralization. Despite increased relative abundance of specific sgRNAs in the context of VOC Alpha infection, immune gene expression in infected cells did not differ between VOC Alpha and B.1. However, inferior spreading and entry efficiencies of VOC Alpha corresponded to lower abundance of proteolytically cleaved spike products presumably linked to the T716I mutation. In addition, we identified a bronchial cell line, NCI-H1299, which supported 24-fold increased growth of VOC Alpha and is to our knowledge the only cell line to recapitulate the fitness advantage of VOC Alpha compared to B.1. Interestingly, also VOC Delta showed a strong (595-fold) fitness advantage over B.1 in these cells. Comparative analysis of chimeric viruses expressing VOC Alpha spike in the backbone of B.1, and vice versa, showed that the specific replication phenotype of VOC Alpha in NCI-H1299 cells is largely determined by its spike protein. Despite undetectable ACE2 protein expression in NCI-H1299 cells, CRISPR/Cas9 knock-out and antibody-mediated blocking experiments revealed that multicycle spread of B.1 and VOC Alpha required ACE2 expression. Interestingly, entry of VOC Alpha, as opposed to B.1 virions, was largely unaffected by treatment with exogenous trypsin or saliva prior to infection, suggesting enhanced resistance of VOC Alpha spike to premature proteolytic cleavage in the extracellular environment of the human respiratory tract. This property may result in delayed degradation of VOC Alpha particle infectivity in conditions typical of mucosal fluids of the upper respiratory tract that may be recapitulated in NCI-H1299 cells closer than in highly ACE2-expressing cell lines and models. Our study highlights the importance of cell model evaluation and comparison for in-depth characterization of virus variant-specific phenotypes and uncovers a fine-tuned interrelationship between VOC Alpha- and host cell-specific determinants that may underlie the increased and prolonged virus shedding detected in patients infected with VOC Alpha.

9.
Transplantation direct ; 8(11), 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-2073328

ABSTRACT

Background. Kidney transplant recipients are at increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and a more severe course of COVID-19. Methods. We conducted a quantitative serologic testing of antibodies specific for the wild type of SARS-CoV-2 and the Omicron variant of concern before and after a third-dose vaccination, either mRNA-1273 (Moderna) or BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) in a cohort of 103 stable kidney transplant recipients (median [range] age, 58 [22–84] y, 57 men [55.3%]). Results. Third-dose vaccination increased the seroconversion rate from 57.3% to 71.8%. However, despite a marked rise of the antibody concentrations after the booster, 55.4% and 11.6% only formed neutralizing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 wild type and Omicron, respectively. Treatment with mycophenolic acid/mycophenolate mofetil (in strata of the dose quartiles), advanced age, and‚ above all‚ impaired renal function (eGFR <60 mL/min) adversely influenced the humoral immunity regarding seroconversion and inhibition of the wild type of SARS-CoV-2. Conclusions. Apart from immunosuppressive therapy, the humoral vaccination response is largely affected by nonmodifiable factors in kidney transplant recipients. With the currently leading and clinically easier Omicron variant, this puts into perspective the strategy to significantly enhance the protective efficacy of the available vaccines by reducing or temporarily stopping proliferation inhibitors, not least considering the inherent rejection risk with a possible deterioration of graft function.

10.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 5929, 2022 10 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2062208

ABSTRACT

Variant of concern (VOC) Omicron-BA.1 has achieved global predominance in early 2022. Therefore, surveillance and comprehensive characterization of Omicron-BA.1 in advanced primary cell culture systems and animal models are urgently needed. Here, we characterize Omicron-BA.1 and recombinant Omicron-BA.1 spike gene mutants in comparison with VOC Delta in well-differentiated primary human nasal and bronchial epithelial cells in vitro, followed by in vivo fitness characterization in hamsters, ferrets and hACE2-expressing mice, and immunized hACE2-mice. We demonstrate a spike-mediated enhancement of early replication of Omicron-BA.1 in nasal epithelial cultures, but limited replication in bronchial epithelial cultures. In hamsters, Delta shows dominance over Omicron-BA.1, and in ferrets Omicron-BA.1 infection is abortive. In hACE2-knock-in mice, Delta and a Delta spike clone also show dominance over Omicron-BA.1 and an Omicron-BA.1 spike clone, respectively. Interestingly, in naïve K18-hACE2 mice, we observe Delta spike-mediated increased replication and pathogenicity and Omicron-BA.1 spike-mediated reduced replication and pathogenicity, suggesting that the spike gene is a major determinant of replication and pathogenicity. Finally, the Omicron-BA.1 spike clone is less well-controlled by mRNA-vaccination in K18-hACE2-mice and becomes more competitive compared to the progenitor and Delta spike clones, suggesting that spike gene-mediated immune evasion is another important factor that led to Omicron-BA.1 dominance.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Animals , Cricetinae , Ferrets , Humans , Melphalan , Mice , Phenotype , RNA, Messenger , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , gamma-Globulins
11.
Sci Immunol ; 7(77): eade2283, 2022 Nov 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2038230

ABSTRACT

BNT162b2-vaccinated individuals after Omicron BA.1 breakthrough infection have strong serum-neutralizing activity against Omicron BA.1, BA.2, and previous SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) yet less against the highly contagious Omicron sublineages BA.4 and BA.5 that have displaced previous variants. Because the latter sublineages are derived from Omicron BA.2, we characterized serum-neutralizing activity of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine triple-immunized individuals who experienced BA.2 breakthrough infection. We demonstrate that sera of these individuals have broadly neutralizing activity against previous VOCs and all tested Omicron sublineages, including BA.2-derived variants BA.2.12.1 and BA.4/BA.5. Furthermore, applying antibody depletion, we showed that neutralization of BA.2 and BA.4/BA.5 sublineages by BA.2 convalescent sera is driven to a considerable extent by antibodies targeting the N-terminal domain (NTD) of the spike glycoprotein. However, neutralization by Omicron BA.1 convalescent sera depends exclusively on antibodies targeting the receptor binding domain (RBD). These findings suggest that exposure to Omicron BA.2, in contrast to BA.1 spike glycoprotein, triggers substantial NTD-specific recall responses in vaccinated individuals and thereby enhances the neutralization of BA.4/BA.5 sublineages. Given the current epidemiology with a predominance of BA.2-derived sublineages such as BA.4/BA.5 and rapidly ongoing evolution, these findings helped to inform development of our Omicron BA.4/BA.5-adapted vaccine.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , Neutralization Tests , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19 Vaccines , BNT162 Vaccine
12.
Viruses ; 14(9)2022 09 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2033141

ABSTRACT

Some of the emerging severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants are less susceptible to neutralization with post-vaccine sera and monoclonal antibodies targeting the viral spike glycoprotein. This raises concerns of disease control, transmissibility, and severity. Numerous substitutions have been identified to increase viral fitness within the nucleocapsid and nonstructural proteins, in addition to spike mutations. Therefore, we sought to generate infectious viruses carrying only the variant-specific spike mutations in an identical backbone to evaluate the impact of spike and non-spike mutations in the virus life cycle. We used en passant mutagenesis to generate recombinant viruses carrying spike mutations of B.1 and B.1.617.2 variants using SARS-CoV-2- bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC). Neutralization assays using clinical sera yielded comparable results between recombinant viruses and corresponding clinical isolates. Non-spike mutations for both variants neither seemed to effect neutralization efficiencies with monoclonal antibodies nor the response to treatment with inhibitors. However, live-cell imaging and microscopy revealed differences, such as persisting syncytia and pronounced cytopathic effect formation, as well as their progression between BAC-derived viruses and clinical isolates in human lung epithelial cell lines and primary bronchial epithelial cells. Complementary RNA analyses further suggested a potential role of non-spike mutations in infection kinetics.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Antibodies, Monoclonal , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , Glycoproteins/genetics , Humans , Mutation , RNA, Complementary , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
13.
Viruses ; 14(9)2022 08 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2006216

ABSTRACT

Wastewater-based SARS-CoV-2 epidemiology (WBE) has been established as an important tool to support individual testing strategies. The Omicron sub-variants BA.4/BA.5 have spread globally, displacing the preceding variants. Due to the severe transmissibility and immune escape potential of BA.4/BA.5, early monitoring was required to assess and implement countermeasures in time. In this study, we monitored the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 BA.4/BA.5 at six municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW, Germany) in May and June 2022. Initially, L452R-specific primers/probes originally designed for SARS-CoV-2 Delta detection were validated using inactivated authentic viruses and evaluated for their suitability for detecting BA.4/BA.5. Subsequently, the assay was used for RT-qPCR analysis of RNA purified from wastewater obtained twice a week at six WWTPs. The occurrence of L452R carrying RNA was detected in early May 2022, and the presence of BA.4/BA.5 was confirmed by variant-specific single nucleotide polymorphism PCR (SNP-PCR) targeting E484A/F486V and NGS sequencing. Finally, the mutant fractions were quantitatively monitored by digital PCR, confirming BA.4/BA.5 as the majority variant by 5 June 2022. In conclusion, the successive workflow using RT-qPCR, variant-specific SNP-PCR, and RT-dPCR demonstrates the strength of WBE as a versatile tool to rapidly monitor variants spreading independently of individual test capacities.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , RNA, Viral/analysis , RNA, Viral/genetics , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Waste Water
14.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 10(8)2022 Aug 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1997854

ABSTRACT

In kidney transplant (KTX) patients, immune responses after booster vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 are inadequately examined. We analyzed these patients a median of four months after a third/fourth vaccination and compared them to healthy controls. Cellular responses were analyzed by interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and interleukin-2 (IL-2) ELISpot assays. Neutralizing antibody titers were assessed against SARS-CoV-2 D614G (wild type) and the variants alpha, delta, and omicron by a cell culture-based neutralization assay. Humoral immunity was also determined by a competitive fluorescence assay, using 11 different variants of SARS-CoV-2. Antibody ratios were measured by ELISA. KTX patients showed significantly lower SARS-CoV-2-specific IFN-γ responses after booster vaccination than healthy controls. However, SARS-CoV-2-specific IL-2 responses were comparable to the T cell responses of healthy controls. Cell culture-based neutralizing antibody titers were 1.3-fold higher in healthy controls for D614G, alpha, and delta, and 7.8-fold higher for omicron (p < 0.01). Healthy controls had approximately 2-fold higher concentrations of potential neutralizing antibodies against all 11 variants than KTX patients. However, more than 60% of the KTX patients displayed antibodies to variants of SARS-CoV-2. Thus, KTX patients should be partly protected, due to neutralizing antibodies to variants of SARS-CoV-2 or by cross-reactive T cells, especially those producing IL-2.

16.
EBioMedicine ; 82: 104158, 2022 Aug.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1991006

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In recent months, Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2 have become dominant in many regions of the world, and case numbers with Omicron subvariants BA.1 and BA.2 continue to increase. Due to numerous mutations in the spike protein, the efficacy of currently available vaccines, which are based on Wuhan-Hu 1 isolate of SARS-CoV-2, is reduced, leading to breakthrough infections. Efficacy of monoclonal antibody therapy is also likely impaired. METHODS: In our in vitro study using A549-AT cells constitutively expressing ACE2 and TMPRSS2, we determined and compared the neutralizing capacity of vaccine-elicited sera, convalescent sera and monoclonal antibodies against authentic SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 compared with Delta. FINDINGS: Almost no neutralisation of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 was observed using sera from individuals vaccinated with two doses 6 months earlier, regardless of the type of vaccine taken. Shortly after the booster dose, most sera from triple BNT162b2-vaccinated individuals were able to neutralise both Omicron variants. In line with waning antibody levels three months after the booster, only weak residual neutralisation was observed for BA.1 (26%, n = 34, 0 median NT50) and BA.2 (44%, n = 34, 0 median NT50). In addition, BA.1 but not BA.2 was resistant to the neutralising monoclonal antibodies casirivimab/imdevimab, while BA.2 exhibited almost a complete evasion from the neutralisation induced by sotrovimab. INTERPRETATION: Both SARS-CoV-2 Omicron subvariants BA.1 and BA.2 escape antibody-mediated neutralisation elicited by vaccination, previous infection with SARS-CoV-2, and monoclonal antibodies. Waning immunity renders the majority of tested sera obtained three months after booster vaccination negative in BA.1 and BA.2 neutralisation. Omicron subvariant specific resistance to the monoclonal antibodies casirivimab/imdevimab and sotrovimab emphasizes the importance of genotype-surveillance and guided application. FUNDING: This study was supported in part by the Goethe-Corona-Fund of the Goethe University Frankfurt (M.W.) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (COVIDready; grant 02WRS1621C (M.W.).


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Viral Vaccines , Antibodies, Monoclonal/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized , Antibodies, Neutralizing/metabolism , Antibodies, Viral , BNT162 Vaccine , COVID-19/therapy , Humans , Immunization, Passive , SARS-CoV-2
18.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2022 Jul 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1961003

ABSTRACT

Our study in 21 pediatric cancer patients demonstrates that three doses of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine (BioNTech/Pfizer) elicited both humoral and cellular immunity in most patients during chemotherapy. Immunity was stronger in children with solid tumors and during maintenance therapy compared to those with hematological malignancies or during intensive chemotherapy.

19.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 10(7)2022 Jul 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1957463

ABSTRACT

The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron subvariants prompted countries to call for accelerated booster vaccinations to limit disease and transmission. Here, we characterized correlates of protection over time after the second booster or after Omicron BA.1 infection comparing variants of concern (VOCs). Sera from subjects before and two and seven weeks after the second booster or after Omicron infection were examined for the level of Spike receptor-binding-domain (RBD)-specific antibodies. Furthermore, neutralizing antibodies (nABs) were characterized in in vitro neutralization assays comparing the variants of concern Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 against the ancestral strain B.1. Here, the second booster resulted in an increase in anti-RBD-IgG-antibodies, remaining nearly constant over time, accompanied by an increase in nABs against B.1 and the VOCs Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron BA.1 and BA.2. However, compared to B.1, the neutralizing capacity against the Omicron subvariants remained low and was limited after the second booster vaccination. This indicates that antibody-mediated protection against infection with this VOC is unlikely, as evidenced by the fact that three individuals of our study cohort became infected with Omicron BA.1 after the second booster. T cell activation was measured by interferon-gamma release assays in a subgroup of subjects and was increased in all subjects tested after the second booster vaccination, correlating with the amount of Spike-specific antibodies. In subjects with Omicron BA.1 breakthrough infection, a significant increase in nABs to all VOCs studied was observed independently of booster vaccinations. Taken together, our data indicate that a second booster or Omicron BA.1 infection mediate a substantial increase in anti-Spike IgG antibodies; however, infection with Omicron BA.1 induced a stronger increase in neutralizing antibodies against the different VOCs.

20.
Sci Total Environ ; 846: 157375, 2022 Nov 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1937141

ABSTRACT

Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has demonstrated its importance to support SARS-CoV-2 epidemiology complementing individual testing strategies. Due to their immune-evasive potential and the resulting significance for public health, close monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VoC) is required to evaluate the regulation of early local countermeasures. In this study, we demonstrate a rapid workflow for wastewater-based early detection and monitoring of the newly emerging SARS-CoV-2 VoCs Omicron in the end of 2021 at the municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) Emschermuendung (KLEM) in the Federal State of North-Rhine-Westphalia (NRW, Germany). Initially, available primers detecting Omicron-related mutations were rapidly validated in a central laboratory. Subsequently, RT-qPCR analysis of purified SARS-CoV-2 RNA was performed in a decentral PCR laboratory in close proximity to KLEM. This decentralized approach enabled the early detection of K417N present in Omicron in samples collected on 8th December 2021 and the detection of further mutations (N501Y, Δ69/70) in subsequent biweekly sampling campaigns. The presence of Omicron in wastewater was confirmed by next generation sequencing (NGS) in a central laboratory with samples obtained on 14th December 2021. Moreover, the relative increase of the mutant fraction of Omicron was quantitatively monitored over time by dPCR in a central PCR laboratory starting on 12th December 2021 confirming Omicron as the dominant variant by the end of 2021. In conclusions, WBE plays a crucial role in surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 variants and is suitable as an early warning system to identify variant emergence. In particular, the successive workflow using RT-qPCR, RT-dPCR and NGS demonstrates the strength of WBE as a versatile tool to monitor variant spreading.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , RNA, Viral , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Sensitivity and Specificity , Waste Water/analysis , Wastewater-Based Epidemiological Monitoring
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