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1.
Lancet Respir Med ; 9(11): 1255-1265, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1594095

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Heterologous vaccine regimens have been widely discussed as a way to mitigate intermittent supply shortages and to improve immunogenicity and safety of COVID-19 vaccines. We aimed to assess the reactogenicity and immunogenicity of heterologous immunisations with ChAdOx1 nCov-19 (AstraZeneca, Cambridge, UK) and BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNtech, Mainz, Germany) compared with homologous BNT162b2 and ChAdOx1 nCov-19 immunisation. METHODS: This is an interim analysis of a prospective observational cohort study enrolling health-care workers in Berlin (Germany) who received either homologous ChAdOx1 nCov-19 or heterologous ChAdOx1 nCov-19-BNT162b2 vaccination with a 10-12-week vaccine interval or homologous BNT162b2 vaccination with a 3-week vaccine interval. We assessed reactogenicity after the first and second vaccination by use of electronic questionnaires on days 1, 3, 5, and 7. Immunogenicity was measured by the presence of SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies (full spike-IgG, S1-IgG, and RBD-IgG), by an RBD-ACE2 binding inhibition assay (surrogate SARS-CoV-2 virus neutralisation test), a pseudovirus neutralisation assay against two variants of concerns (alpha [B.1.1.7] and beta [B.1.351]), and anti-S1-IgG avidity. T-cell reactivity was measured by IFN-γ release assay. FINDINGS: Between Dec 27, 2020, and June 14, 2021, 380 participants were enrolled in the study, with 174 receiving homologous BNT162b2 vaccination, 38 receiving homologous ChAdOx1 nCov-19 vaccination, and 104 receiving ChAdOx1 nCov-19-BNT162b2 vaccination. Systemic symptoms were reported by 103 (65%, 95% CI 57·1-71·8) of 159 recipients of homologous BNT162b2, 14 (39%, 24·8-55·1) of 36 recipients of homologous ChAdOx1 nCov-19, and 51 (49%, 39·6-58·5) of 104 recipients of ChAdOx1 nCov-19-BNT162b2 after the booster immunisation. Median anti-RBD IgG levels 3 weeks after boost immunisation were 5·4 signal to cutoff ratio (S/co; IQR 4·8-5·9) in recipients of homologous BNT162b2, 4·9 S/co (4·3-5·6) in recipients of homologous ChAdOx1 nCov-19, and 5·6 S/co (5·1-6·1) in recipients of ChAdOx1 nCov-19- BNT162b2. Geometric mean of 50% inhibitory dose against alpha and beta variants were highest in recipients of ChAdOx1 nCov-19-BNT162b2 (956·6, 95% CI 835·6-1095, against alpha and 417·1, 349·3-498·2, against beta) compared with those in recipients of homologous ChAdOx1 nCov-19 (212·5, 131·2-344·4, against alpha and 48·5, 28·4-82·8, against beta; both p<0·0001) or homologous BNT162b2 (369·2, 310·7-438·6, against alpha and 72·4, 60·5-86·5, against beta; both p<0·0001). SARS-CoV-2 S1 T-cell reactivity 3 weeks after boost immunisation was highest in recipients of ChAdOx1 nCov-19-BNT162b2 (median IFN-γ concentration 4762 mIU/mL, IQR 2723-8403) compared with that in recipients of homologous ChAdOx1 nCov-19 (1061 mIU/mL, 599-2274, p<0·0001) and homologous BNT162b2 (2026 mIU/mL, 1459-4621, p=0·0008) vaccination. INTERPRETATION: The heterologous ChAdOx1 nCov-19-BNT162b2 immunisation with 10-12-week interval, recommended in Germany, is well tolerated and improves immunogenicity compared with homologous ChAdOx1 nCov-19 vaccination with 10-12-week interval and BNT162b2 vaccination with 3-week interval. Heterologous prime-boost immunisation strategies for COVID-19 might be generally applicable. FUNDING: Forschungsnetzwerk der Universitätsmedizin zu COVID-19, the German Ministry of Education and Research, Zalando SE.

2.
Nature ; 2021 Dec 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1585832

ABSTRACT

Emerging variants of concern (VOC) drive the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic1,2. Experimental assessment of replication and transmission of major VOC compared to progenitors are needed to understand successful emerging mechanisms of VOC3. Here, we show that Alpha and Beta spike (S) proteins have a greater affinity to human angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (hACE2) receptor over the progenitor variant (wt-S614G) in vitro. Yet Alpha and wt-S614G had similar replication kinetics in human nasal airway epithelial cultures, whereas Beta was outcompeted by both. In vivo, competition experiments showed a clear fitness advantage of Alpha over the progenitor variant (wt-S614G) in ferrets and two mouse models, where the substitutions in S were major drivers for fitness advantage. In hamsters, supporting high replication levels, Alpha and wt-S614G had comparable fitness. In contrast, Beta was outcompeted by Alpha and wt-S614G in hamsters and hACE2-expressing mice. Our study highlights the importance of using multiple models for complete fitness characterization of VOC and demonstrates adaptation of Alpha towards increased upper respiratory tract replication and enhanced transmission in vivo in restrictive models, whereas Beta fails to overcome contemporary strains in naïve animals.

3.
Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-294933

ABSTRACT

Objective to assess reactogenicity and immunogenicity of heterologous prime-boost immunisations of ChAdOx1-nCoV19 (Vaxzevria, ChAdOx) followed by BNT162b2 (Comirnaty, BNT) compared to homologous BNT/BNT immunisation. Design prospective, observational cohort study. Setting unicenter study in a cohort of health care workers at a tertiary care center in Berlin, Germany. Participants 340 health care workers immunised between 27 December 2020 and 21 May 2021 at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany Main outcome measures the main outcomes were reactogenicity assessed on days one, three, five and seven post prime and boost vaccination, and immunogenicity measured by serum SARS-CoV-2 full spike-, spike S1-, and spike RBD-IgG, virus neutralisation capacity, anti-S1-IgG avidity, and T cell reactivity measured by Interferon gamma release assay at 3-4 weeks post prime and boost immunisation. Results Heterologous ChAdOx/BNT booster vaccination was overall well-tolerated and reactogenicity was largely comparable to homologous BNT/BNT vaccination. Systemic reactions were most frequent after prime immunisation with ChAdOx (86%, 95CI: 79-91), and less frequent after homologous BNT/BNT (65%, 95CI: 56-72), or heterologous ChAdOx/BNT booster vaccination (48%, 95CI: 36-59). Serum antibody responses and T cell reactivity were strongly increased after both homologous and heterologous boost, and immunogenicity was overall robust, and comparable between both regimens in this cohort, with slightly increased S1-IgG avidity and T cell responses following heterologous booster immunisation. Conclusions Evidence of rare thrombotic events associated with ChAdOx has led to recommendation of a heterologous booster with mRNA vaccines for certain age groups in several European countries, despite a lack of robust safety and immunogenicity data for this vaccine regimen. This interim analysis provides evidence that the currently recommended heterologous ChAdOx/BNT immunisation regimen with 10-12 week vaccine intervals is well tolerated and slightly more immunogenic compared to homologous BNT/BNT vaccination with three week vaccine intervals. Heterologous prime-boost immunisation for COVID-19 may be generally applicable to optimise logistics and improve immunogenicity and to mitigate potential intermittent supply shortages for individual vaccines.

4.
Transbound Emerg Dis ; 2021 Nov 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1546411

ABSTRACT

West Nile Virus (WNV) infections are increasingly detected in birds and horses in central Europe, with a first mosquito-borne autochthonous human infection detected in Germany in 2019. Human infections are typically asymptomatic, with occasional severe neurological disease. Because of a low number of cases in central Europe, awareness regarding potential cases is low and WNV diagnostic is neglected. We tested cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from unsolved encephalitis and meningitis cases from Berlin from 2019 and 2020, and describe a WNV-encephalitis case in a 33-year old kidney transplant recipient. The infectious course was resolved by serology, RT-PCR, and sequencing of stored samples. Phylogenetic sequence analysis revealed a close relationship of the patient's WNV strain to German sequences from 2019 and 2020. A lack of travel history and patient self-isolation during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic suggest the infection was acquired in the patient's home or garden. Serological tests of four people sharing the living space were negative. Retrospective RT-PCR and WNV-IgM testing of 671 CSF samples from unsolved encephalitis and meningitis cases from Berlin detected no additional infections. The recent increase of WNV cases illustrates the importance of considering WNV in cases of meningoencephalitis, especially in immunocompromised patients, as described here. Proper education and communication and a revised diagnostic strategy will help to raise awareness and to detect future WNV infections. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

6.
Emerg Infect Dis ; 27(11): 2889-2903, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1379955

ABSTRACT

Intense transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in Africa might promote emergence of variants. We describe 10 SARS-CoV-2 lineages in Benin during early 2021 that harbored mutations associated with variants of concern. Benin-derived SARS-CoV-2 strains were more efficiently neutralized by antibodies derived from vaccinees than patients, warranting accelerated vaccination in Africa.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Benin/epidemiology , Humans , Mutation
7.
Blood ; 136(Supplement 1):46-46, 2020.
Article in English | PMC | ID: covidwho-1338956

ABSTRACT

Introduction: By now, the pandemic spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) has claimed more than 600,000 lives. The adaptive immune response seems to play a major role in the progression of the disease, since entry of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) is determined by a spike protein recognized by T helper cells. This has been linked to the clinical finding of severe lymphocytopenia in these patients. However, detailed cellular immune responses in the bone marrow (BM) and in the spleen (SPL) of COVID-19 patients have not been addressed yet. Here, we provide novel immunologic insight with potential for therapeutic management and risk stratification in COVID-19.Material and Methods: We performed complete autopsies on 11 confirmed COVID-19 and 4 non-COVID-19 deceased, who were matched for risk profile and age. SARS-CoV-2 load was measured by rt-PCR (quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction) targeting the SARS-CoV-2 E-gene in purified RNA extracts from 50mg of pulmonary tissue (MagNAPure 96 system, Viral NA Large Volume Kit, Roche). For histopathology, representative tissue samples of decalcified BM and SPL were fixed in 4 % buffered formalin, dehydrated and paraffin embedded. Sections were stained with HE, PAS, Giemsa-, Gomori- and Prussian blue stain. Furthermore, BM and SPL were stained with immunohistochemical reagents, namely MPO (Myeloperoxidase), CD235, CD34, CD117, CD68, CD61, CD20, CD3, CD4, CD8, CD138, HLA-DR (Human Leucocyte antigen - DR isotype), PD-1, PD-L1 (Programmed cell death protein and ligand 1), Ki67 and Caspase3 (Ventana Ultra and LEICA Bond III). Additionally, we performed in-situ hybridization of EBV (Epstein-Barr-Virus;LEICA Bond MAX), followed by PCR of the EBV nuclear antigen 1 (Thermo Fisher and Roche). Histopathology was evaluated by at least two hematopathologists. Clinical data were obtained from patients' files. Statistical analysis was done using GraphPad Prism8 Software. Inc, 2018.Results: Of all COVID-19 deceased, 73% (n = 8/11) showed BM hypercellularity, increased granulocyte / erythrocyte ratios, and left shift of erythro- and granulopoiesis with anemia and an increase of immature granulocytes in the peripheral blood. Thromboembolic events were present in 82% (n = 9/11) of COVID-19 patients and related to an increase and left shift of megakaryopoiesis in the BM. In the BM of patients with severe bacterial superinfection of COVID-19 pneumonia, we observed an early increase of PD-L1 expression on myeloid cells, lymphocytic apoptosis, and time-dependent macrophage anergy with a continuous loss of antigen-presenting capacity. Furthermore, we found CD20+ B-cell depletion in either BM or SPL in 64% (n = 7/11) of COVID-19 patients with B-cell counts of less than 1% in the BM and 1-5% in the SPL, followed by complete plasma cell depletion. This was reflected by severe lymphocytopenia in the peripheral blood. In contrast, BM T-cell counts were nearly as high in COVID-19 decedents (median 10%) as in cases not related to COVID-19 (median 12.5%). Interestingly, there was a tendency towards higher pulmonary SARS-CoV-2 RNA load in COVID-19 patients with B-cell depletion, as we observed maximum viral copy numbers of up to 1,150,000 / 10,000 cells in patients with B-cell depletion as compared to 6,500 / 10,000 cells in patients with B-cell preservation. EBV was absent in all cases. Clinical characteristics and time-intervals between initial symptoms and death of COVID-19 patients were heterogenous, therefore preventing the detection of a clinical risk profile in patients with B-cell depletion.Conclusion: Our results show that severe lymphocyte depletion in COVID-19 deceased is caused by a substantial loss of B-cells which is in turn associated with viral SARS-CoV-2 burden and presumably results from excessive activation of the adaptive immune system. It is yet to be determined how B-cell specific pathways are affected by SARS-CoV-2 and whether this might serve as a therapeutic target of interest. Moreover, we provide morphologic evidence, that COVID-19 pneu onia with bacterial superinfection is aggravated by sepsis acquired immunodeficiency. Since the latter is associated with an epigenetically determined switch to endotoxin tolerance, our findings may additionally aid in risk stratification of COVID-19 patients who undergo severe bacterial superinfection during the disease.

8.
Front Immunol ; 12: 690698, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1317227

ABSTRACT

Patients with kidney failure have notoriously weak responses to common vaccines. Thus, immunogenicity of novel SARS-CoV-2 vaccines might be impaired in this group. To determine immunogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in patients with chronic dialysis, we analyzed the humoral and T-cell response after two doses of mRNA vaccine Tozinameran (BNT162b2 BioNTech/Pfizer). This observational study included 43 patients on dialysis before vaccination with two doses of Tozinameran 21 days apart. Overall, 36 patients completed the observation period until three weeks after the second dose and 32 patients were further analyzed at week 10. Serum samples were analyzed by SARS-CoV-2 specific IgG and IgA antibodies ~1, ~3-4 and ~10 weeks after the second vaccination. In addition, SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell responses were assessed at ~3-4 weeks by an interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA). Antibody and T cell outcomes at this timepoint were compared to a group of 44 elderly patients not on dialysis, after immunization with Tozinameran. Median age of patients on chronic dialysis was 74.0 years (IQR 66.0, 82.0). The proportion of males was higher (69.4%) than females. Only 20/36 patients (55.6%, 95%CI: 38.29-71.67) developed SARS-CoV-2-IgG antibodies at the first sampling, whereas 32/36 patients (88.9%, 95%CI: 73.00-96.38) demonstrated IgG detection at the second sampling. In a longitudinal follow-up at ~10 weeks after the second dose, the proportion of dialysis patients reactive for anti-SARS-CoV-2-IgG decreased to 27/32 (84.37%, 95%CI: 66.46-94.10) The proportion of anti-SARS-CoV-2 S1 IgA decreased from 33/36 (91.67%; 95%CI: 76.41-97.82) at weeks 3-4 down to 19/32 (59.38; 95%CI: 40.79-75.78). Compared to a cohort of vaccinees with similar age but not on chronic dialysis seroconversion rates and antibody titers were significantly lower. SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell responses 3 weeks after second vaccination were detected in 21/31 vaccinated dialysis patients (67.7%, 95%CI: 48.53-82.68) compared to 42/44 (93.3%, 95%CI: 76.49-98.84) in controls of similar age. Patients on dialysis demonstrate a delayed, but robust immune response three to four weeks after the second dose, which indicates effective vaccination of this vulnerable group. However, the lower immunogenicity of Tozinameran in these patients needs further attention to develop potential countermeasures such as an additional booster vaccination.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Immunogenicity, Vaccine , Renal Dialysis , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Vaccination/methods , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19/virology , Female , Follow-Up Studies , Humans , Immunity , Immunoglobulin A/blood , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Longitudinal Studies , Male , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology
9.
JAMA Neurol ; 78(8): 948-960, 2021 08 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1265359

ABSTRACT

Importance: Myalgia, increased levels of creatine kinase, and persistent muscle weakness have been reported in patients with COVID-19. Objective: To study skeletal muscle and myocardial inflammation in patients with COVID-19 who had died. Design, Setting, and Participants: This case-control autopsy series was conducted in a university hospital as a multidisciplinary postmortem investigation. Patients with COVID-19 or other critical illnesses who had died between March 2020 and February 2021 and on whom an autopsy was performed were included. Individuals for whom informed consent to autopsy was available and the postmortem interval was less than 6 days were randomly selected. Individuals who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 per polymerase chain reaction test results and had clinical features suggestive of COVID-19 were compared with individuals with negative SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction test results and an absence of clinical features suggestive of COVID-19. Main Outcomes and Measures: Inflammation of skeletal muscle tissue was assessed by quantification of immune cell infiltrates, expression of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and class II antigens on the sarcolemma, and a blinded evaluation on a visual analog scale ranging from absence of pathology to the most pronounced pathology. Inflammation of cardiac muscles was assessed by quantification of immune cell infiltrates. Results: Forty-three patients with COVID-19 (median [interquartile range] age, 72 [16] years; 31 men [72%]) and 11 patients with diseases other than COVID-19 (median [interquartile range] age, 71 [5] years; 7 men [64%]) were included. Skeletal muscle samples from the patients who died with COVID-19 showed a higher overall pathology score (mean [SD], 3.4 [1.8] vs 1.5 [1.0]; 95% CI, 0-3; P < .001) and a higher inflammation score (mean [SD], 3.5 [2.1] vs 1.0 [0.6]; 95% CI, 0-4; P < .001). Relevant expression of MHC class I antigens on the sarcolemma was present in 23 of 42 specimens from patients with COVID-19 (55%) and upregulation of MHC class II antigens in 7 of 42 specimens from patients with COVID-19 (17%), but neither were found in any of the controls. Increased numbers of natural killer cells (median [interquartile range], 8 [8] vs 3 [4] cells per 10 high-power fields; 95% CI, 1-10 cells per 10 high-power fields; P < .001) were found. Skeletal muscles showed more inflammatory features than cardiac muscles, and inflammation was most pronounced in patients with COVID-19 with chronic courses. In some muscle specimens, SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, but no evidence for a direct viral infection of myofibers was found by immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy. Conclusions and Relevance: In this case-control study of patients who had died with and without COVID-19, most individuals with severe COVID-19 showed signs of myositis ranging from mild to severe. Inflammation of skeletal muscles was associated with the duration of illness and was more pronounced than cardiac inflammation. Detection of viral load was low or negative in most skeletal and cardiac muscles and probably attributable to circulating viral RNA rather than genuine infection of myocytes. This suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may be associated with a postinfectious, immune-mediated myopathy.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/pathology , Muscle, Skeletal/pathology , Myocarditis/pathology , Myocardium/pathology , Myositis/pathology , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Autopsy , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/pathology , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing , COVID-19 Serological Testing , Case-Control Studies , Female , Histocompatibility Antigens Class I/metabolism , Histocompatibility Antigens Class II/metabolism , Humans , Killer Cells, Natural/pathology , Leukocytes/pathology , Macrophages/pathology , Male , Middle Aged , Muscle, Skeletal/metabolism , Myocarditis/metabolism , Myocardium/metabolism , Myositis/metabolism , RNA, Viral/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , Sarcolemma/metabolism , Time Factors
10.
Int J Infect Dis ; 108: 274-281, 2021 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1253010

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: Studies on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) usually focus on middle-aged and older adults. However, younger patients may present with severe COVID-19 with potentially fatal outcomes. For optimized, more specialized therapeutic regimens in this particular patient group, a better understanding of the underlying pathomechanisms is of utmost importance. METHODS: Our study investigated relevant, pre-existing medical conditions, clinical histories, and autopsy findings, together with SARS-CoV-2-RNA, determined by qPCR, and laboratory data in six COVID-19 decedents aged 50 years or younger, who were autopsied at the Charité University Hospital. RESULTS: From a total of 76 COVID-19 patients who underwent an autopsy at our institution, six (7.9%) were 50 years old or younger. Most of these younger COVID-19 decedents presented with pre-existing medical conditions prior to SARS-CoV-2 infection. These included overweight and obesity, arterial hypertension, asthma, and obstructive sleep apnea, as well as graft-versus-host disease following cancer and bone marrow transplantation. Furthermore, clinical histories and autopsy results revealed a disproportionally high prevalence of thromboembolism and ischemic organ damage in this patient cohort. Histopathology and laboratory results indicated coagulopathies, signs of immune dysregulation, and liver damage. CONCLUSIONS: In conclusion, pre-existing health conditions may increase the risk of severe and fatal COVID-19 in younger patients, who may be especially prone to developing thromboembolic complications, immune dysregulation, and liver damage.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Hypertension , Aged , Autopsy , Humans , Middle Aged , Overweight , SARS-CoV-2
11.
Science ; 373(6551)2021 07 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1243685

ABSTRACT

Two elementary parameters for quantifying viral infection and shedding are viral load and whether samples yield a replicating virus isolate in cell culture. We examined 25,381 cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in Germany, including 6110 from test centers attended by presymptomatic, asymptomatic, and mildly symptomatic (PAMS) subjects, 9519 who were hospitalized, and 1533 B.1.1.7 lineage infections. The viral load of the youngest subjects was lower than that of the older subjects by 0.5 (or fewer) log10 units, and they displayed an estimated ~78% of the peak cell culture replication probability; in part this was due to smaller swab sizes and unlikely to be clinically relevant. Viral loads above 109 copies per swab were found in 8% of subjects, one-third of whom were PAMS, with a mean age of 37.6 years. We estimate 4.3 days from onset of shedding to peak viral load (108.1 RNA copies per swab) and peak cell culture isolation probability (0.75). B.1.1.7 subjects had mean log10 viral load 1.05 higher than that of non-B.1.1.7 subjects, and the estimated cell culture replication probability of B.1.1.7 subjects was higher by a factor of 2.6.


Subject(s)
Asymptomatic Infections , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Adolescent , Adult , Age Factors , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing , Caco-2 Cells , Child , Child, Preschool , Female , Germany , Hospitalization , Humans , Infant , Male , Middle Aged , Probability , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Viral Load , Virus Replication , Virus Shedding , Young Adult
12.
J Immunol ; 206(11): 2614-2622, 2021 06 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1227099

ABSTRACT

The current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has triggered the development of various SARS-CoV-2 neutralization tests. A wild-type virus (using African green monkey VeroE6 cells), a pseudovirus (using human Caco-2 cells), and a surrogate neutralization test platform were applied to characterize the SARS-CoV-2 neutralization potential of a cohort of 111 convalescent plasma donors over a period of seven months after diagnosis. This allowed an in-depth validation and assay performance analysis of these platforms. More importantly, we found that SARS-CoV-2 neutralization titers were stable or even increased within the observation period, which contradicts earlier studies reporting a rapid waning of Ab titers after three to four months. Moreover, we observed a positive correlation of neutralization titers with increasing age, number of symptoms reported, and the presence of the Rhesus Ag RhD. Validation of the platforms revealed that highest assay performances were obtained with the wild-type virus and the surrogate neutralization platforms. However, our data also suggested that selection of cutoff titers had a strong impact on the evaluation of neutralization potency. When taking strong neutralization potency, as demonstrated by the wild-type virus platform as the gold standard, up to 55% of plasma products had low neutralization titers. However, a significant portion of these products were overrated in their potency when using the surrogate assay with the recommended cutoff titer. In summary, our study demonstrates that SARS-CoV-2 neutralization titers are stable for at least seven months after diagnosis and offers a testing strategy for rapid selection of high-titer convalescent plasma products in a biosafety level 1 environment.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Blood Donors , COVID-19/therapy , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Viral/therapeutic use , COVID-19/immunology , Female , Humans , Immunization, Passive , Male , Rh-Hr Blood-Group System/immunology
13.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 1961, 2021 03 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1169399

ABSTRACT

The pathogenesis of severe COVID-19 reflects an inefficient immune reaction to SARS-CoV-2. Here we analyze, at the single cell level, plasmablasts egressed into the blood to study the dynamics of adaptive immune response in COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care. Before seroconversion in response to SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, peripheral plasmablasts display a type 1 interferon-induced gene expression signature; however, following seroconversion, plasmablasts lose this signature, express instead gene signatures induced by IL-21 and TGF-ß, and produce mostly IgG1 and IgA1. In the sustained immune reaction from COVID-19 patients, plasmablasts shift to the expression of IgA2, thereby reflecting an instruction by TGF-ß. Despite their continued presence in the blood, plasmablasts are not found in the lungs of deceased COVID-19 patients, nor does patient IgA2 binds to the dominant antigens of SARS-CoV-2. Our results thus suggest that, in severe COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 triggers a chronic immune reaction that is instructed by TGF-ß, and is distracted from itself.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Transforming Growth Factor beta/immunology , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/virology , Female , Humans , Immunoglobulin A/immunology , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Interleukins/immunology , Male , Middle Aged , Plasma Cells/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
14.
J Clin Virol ; 138: 104796, 2021 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1152481

ABSTRACT

Antigen-detecting rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) can complement molecular diagnostics for COVID-19. The recommended temperature for storage of SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDTs ranges between 2-30 °C. In the global South, mean temperatures can exceed 30 °C. In the global North, Ag-RDTs are often used in external testing facilities at low ambient temperatures. We assessed analytical sensitivity and specificity of eleven commercially-available SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDTs using different storage and operational temperatures, including short- or long-term storage and operation at recommended temperatures or at either 2-4 °C or at 37 °C. The limits of detection of SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDTs under recommended conditions ranged from 1.0×106- 5.5×107 genome copies/mL of infectious SARS-CoV-2 cell culture supernatant. Despite long-term storage at recommended conditions, 10 min pre-incubation of Ag-RDTs and testing at 37 °C resulted in about ten-fold reduced sensitivity for five out of 11 SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDTs, including both Ag-RDTs currently listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization. After 3 weeks of storage at 37 °C, eight of the 11 SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDTs exhibited about ten-fold reduced sensitivity. Specificity of SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDTs using cell culture supernatant from common respiratory viruses was not affected by storage and testing at 37 °C, whereas false-positive results occurred at outside temperatures of 2-4 °C for two out of six tested Ag-RDTs, again including an Ag-RDT recommended by the WHO. In summary, elevated temperatures impair sensitivity, whereas low temperatures impair specificity of SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDTs. Consequences may include false-negative test results at clinically relevant virus concentrations compatible with transmission and false-positive results entailing unwarranted quarantine assignments. Storage and operation of SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDTs at recommended conditions is essential for successful usage during the pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Serological Testing , COVID-19/diagnosis , Diagnostic Tests, Routine , Reagent Kits, Diagnostic , Cold Temperature/adverse effects , False Negative Reactions , False Positive Reactions , Hot Temperature/adverse effects , Humans , Sensitivity and Specificity
15.
Arch Virol ; 166(5): 1385-1393, 2021 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1135167

ABSTRACT

Following the detection of the first imported case of COVID-19 in the northern sector of Ghana, we molecularly characterized and phylogenetically analysed sequences, including three complete genome sequences, of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 obtained from nine patients in Ghana. We performed high-throughput sequencing on nine samples that were found to have a high concentration of viral RNA. We also assessed the potential impact that long-distance transport of samples to testing centres may have on sequencing results. Here, two samples that were similar in terms of viral RNA concentration but were transported from sites that are over 400 km apart were analyzed. All sequences were compared to previous sequences from Ghana and representative sequences from regions where our patients had previously travelled. Three complete genome sequences and another nearly complete genome sequence with 95.6% coverage were obtained. Sequences with coverage in excess of 80% were found to belong to three lineages, namely A, B.1 and B.2. Our sequences clustered in two different clades, with the majority falling within a clade composed of sequences from sub-Saharan Africa. Less RNA fragmentation was seen in sample KATH23, which was collected 9 km from the testing site, than in sample TTH6, which was collected and transported over a distance of 400 km to the testing site. The clustering of several sequences from sub-Saharan Africa suggests regional circulation of the viruses in the subregion. Importantly, there may be a need to decentralize testing sites and build more capacity across Africa to boost the sequencing output of the subregion.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/transmission , SARS-CoV-2/classification , Whole Genome Sequencing/methods , Female , Genome, Viral , Ghana , Humans , Male , Nasopharynx/virology , Oropharynx/virology , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Sequence Analysis, RNA
16.
J Infect Dis ; 223(5): 796-801, 2021 03 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1117034

ABSTRACT

Highly sensitive and specific platforms for the detection of anti-severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibodies are becoming increasingly important for evaluating potential SARS-CoV-2 convalescent plasma donors, studying the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infections, and identifying individuals with seroconversion. This study provides a comparative validation of 4 anti-SARS-CoV-2 platforms. A unique feature of the study is the use of a representative cohort of convalescent patients with coronavirus disease 2019 and a mild to moderate disease course. All platforms showed significant correlations with a SARS-CoV-2 plaque reduction neutralization test, with highest sensitivities for the Euroimmun and the Roche platforms, suggesting their preferential use for screening persons at increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infections.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Serological Testing/standards , COVID-19/therapy , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19 Serological Testing/methods , Case-Control Studies , Cohort Studies , Female , Humans , Immunization, Passive/standards , Male , Middle Aged , Neutralization Tests , Predictive Value of Tests , Sensitivity and Specificity , Tissue Donors , Young Adult
17.
Sci Rep ; 11(1): 4263, 2021 02 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1091460

ABSTRACT

Infection by the new corona virus strain SARS-CoV-2 and its related syndrome COVID-19 has been associated with more than two million deaths worldwide. Patients of higher age and with preexisting chronic health conditions are at an increased risk of fatal disease outcome. However, detailed information on causes of death and the contribution of pre-existing health conditions to death yet is missing, which can be reliably established by autopsy only. We performed full body autopsies on 26 patients that had died after SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 at the Charité University Hospital Berlin, Germany, or at associated teaching hospitals. We systematically evaluated causes of death and pre-existing health conditions. Additionally, clinical records and death certificates were evaluated. We report findings on causes of death and comorbidities of 26 decedents that had clinically presented with severe COVID-19. We found that septic shock and multi organ failure was the most common immediate cause of death, often due to suppurative pulmonary infection. Respiratory failure due to diffuse alveolar damage presented as immediate cause of death in fewer cases. Several comorbidities, such as hypertension, ischemic heart disease, and obesity were present in the vast majority of patients. Our findings reveal that causes of death were directly related to COVID-19 in the majority of decedents, while they appear not to be an immediate result of preexisting health conditions and comorbidities. We therefore suggest that the majority of patients had died of COVID-19 with only contributory implications of preexisting health conditions to the mechanism of death.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/mortality , Cause of Death , Hospital Mortality , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Autopsy , Berlin/epidemiology , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/therapy , COVID-19/virology , Comorbidity , Female , Hospitals, Teaching/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Hypertension/epidemiology , Male , Middle Aged , Multiple Organ Failure/mortality , Multiple Organ Failure/virology , Myocardial Ischemia/epidemiology , Obesity/epidemiology , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Shock, Septic/mortality , Shock, Septic/virology
18.
mBio ; 12(1)2021 01 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1066819

ABSTRACT

Bats host many viruses pathogenic to humans, and increasing evidence suggests that rotavirus A (RVA) also belongs to this list. Rotaviruses cause diarrheal disease in many mammals and birds, and their segmented genomes allow them to reassort and increase their genetic diversity. Eighteen out of 2,142 bat fecal samples (0.8%) collected from Europe, Central America, and Africa were PCR-positive for RVA, and 11 of those were fully characterized using viral metagenomics. Upon contrasting their genomes with publicly available data, at least 7 distinct bat RVA genotype constellations (GCs) were identified, which included evidence of reassortments and 6 novel genotypes. Some of these constellations are spread across the world, whereas others appear to be geographically restricted. Our analyses also suggest that several unusual human and equine RVA strains might be of bat RVA origin, based on their phylogenetic clustering, despite various levels of nucleotide sequence identities between them. Although SA11 is one of the most widely used reference strains for RVA research and forms the backbone of a reverse genetics system, its origin remained enigmatic. Remarkably, the majority of the genotypes of SA11-like strains were shared with Gabonese bat RVAs, suggesting a potential common origin. Overall, our findings suggest an underexplored genetic diversity of RVAs in bats, which is likely only the tip of the iceberg. Increasing contact between humans and bat wildlife will further increase the zoonosis risk, which warrants closer attention to these viruses.IMPORTANCE The increased research on bat coronaviruses after severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) allowed the very rapid identification of SARS-CoV-2. This is an excellent example of the importance of knowing viruses harbored by wildlife in general, and bats in particular, for global preparedness against emerging viral pathogens. The current effort to characterize bat rotavirus strains from 3 continents sheds light on the vast genetic diversity of rotaviruses and also hints at a bat origin for several atypical rotaviruses in humans and animals, implying that zoonoses of bat rotaviruses might occur more frequently than currently realized.


Subject(s)
Chiroptera/virology , Rotavirus Infections/transmission , Rotavirus Infections/virology , Rotavirus/genetics , Zoonoses/transmission , Zoonoses/virology , Animals , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Diarrhea/virology , Genetic Variation , Genome, Viral , Genotype , Horses , Humans , Metagenomics , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/isolation & purification , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification
19.
Nat Neurosci ; 24(2): 168-175, 2021 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1060446

ABSTRACT

The newly identified severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causes COVID-19, a pandemic respiratory disease. Moreover, thromboembolic events throughout the body, including in the CNS, have been described. Given the neurological symptoms observed in a large majority of individuals with COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 penetrance of the CNS is likely. By various means, we demonstrate the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA and protein in anatomically distinct regions of the nasopharynx and brain. Furthermore, we describe the morphological changes associated with infection such as thromboembolic ischemic infarction of the CNS and present evidence of SARS-CoV-2 neurotropism. SARS-CoV-2 can enter the nervous system by crossing the neural-mucosal interface in olfactory mucosa, exploiting the close vicinity of olfactory mucosal, endothelial and nervous tissue, including delicate olfactory and sensory nerve endings. Subsequently, SARS-CoV-2 appears to follow neuroanatomical structures, penetrating defined neuroanatomical areas including the primary respiratory and cardiovascular control center in the medulla oblongata.


Subject(s)
Brain/virology , COVID-19/virology , Olfactory Mucosa/virology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Central Nervous System , Humans , RNA, Viral/genetics , Smell/physiology , Virus Internalization
20.
Int J Infect Dis ; 103: 628-635, 2021 Feb.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1002639

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: In coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the adaptive immune response is of considerable importance, and detailed cellular immune reactions in the hematological system of patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection are yet to be clarified. METHODS: This study reports the morphological characterization of both bone marrow and spleen in 11 COVID-19 decedents with respect to findings in the peripheral blood and pulmonary SARS-CoV-2 burden. RESULTS: In the bone marrow, activation and left shift were found in at least 55% of patients, which was mirrored by peripheral anaemia, granulocytic immaturity and multiple thromboembolic events. Signs of sepsis-acquired immunodeficiency were found in the setting of an abscess-forming superinfection of viral COVID-19 pneumonia. Furthermore, a severe B cell loss was observed in the bone marrow and/or spleen in 64% of COVID-19 patients. This was reflected by lymphocytopenia in the peripheral blood. As compared to B cell preservation, B cell loss was associated with a higher pulmonary SARS-CoV-2 burden and only a marginal decrease of of T cell counts. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study suggest the presence of sepsis-related immunodeficiency in severe COVID-19 pneumonia with superinfection. Furthermore, our findings indicate that lymphocytopenia in COVID-19 is accompanied by B cell depletion in hematopoietic tissue, which might impede the durability of the humoral immune response to SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
B-Lymphocytes/immunology , Bone Marrow/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Lymphopenia/etiology , SARS-CoV-2 , Sepsis/immunology , Spleen/immunology , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged
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