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1.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-335264

ABSTRACT

South Africa’s fourth COVID-19 wave was driven predominantly by three lineages (BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3) of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant of concern. We have now identified two new lineages, BA.4 and BA.5. The spike proteins of BA.4 and BA.5 are identical, and comparable to BA.2 except for the addition of 69-70del, L452R, F486V and the wild type amino acid at Q493. The 69-70 deletion in spike allows these lineages to be identified by the proxy marker of S-gene target failure with the TaqPath™ COVID-19 qPCR assay. BA.4 and BA.5 have rapidly replaced BA.2, reaching more than 50% of sequenced cases in South Africa from the first week of April 2022 onwards. Using a multinomial logistic regression model, we estimate growth advantages for BA.4 and BA.5 of 0.08 (95% CI: 0.07 - 0.09) and 0.12 (95% CI: 0.09 - 0.15) per day respectively over BA.2 in South Africa.

2.
Virus Research ; : 198785, 2022.
Article in English | ScienceDirect | ID: covidwho-1799663

ABSTRACT

Brazil ranks as third in terms of total number of reported SARS-CoV-2 cases globally. The COVID-19 epidemic in Brazil was characterised by the co-circulation of multiple variants as a consequence of multiple independent introduction events occurring through time. Here, we describe the SARS-CoV-2 variants that are currently circulating and co-circulating in the country, with the aim to highlight which variants have driven the different epidemic waves. For this purpose, we retrieved metadata information of Coronavirus sequences collected in Brazil and available at the GISAID database. SARS-CoV-2 lineages have been identified along with eleven variants, labelled as VOCs (Alpha, Gamma, Beta, Delta and Omicron) VOIs (Lambda and Mu) VUMs (B.1.1.318) and FMVs (Zeta, Eta and B.1.1.519). Here we show that, in the Brazilian context, after 24 months of sustained transmission and evolution of SARS-CoV-2, local variants (among them the B.1.1.28 and B.1.1.33) were displaced by recently introduced VOCs firstly with the Gamma, followed by Delta and more recently Omicron. The rapid spread of some of those VOCs (such as Gamma and Omicron) was also mirror by a large increase in the number of cases and deaths in the country. This in turn reinforces that, due to the emergence of variants that appear to induce a substantial evasion against neutralizing antibody response, it is important to strengthen genomic effort within the country and how vaccination still remains a critical process to protect the vulnerable population, still at risk of infection and death.

3.
J Med Virol ; 94(6): 2479-2486, 2022 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1797827

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a threatening impact on a global scale, largely due to the emergence of newly SARS-CoV-2 variants. The Mu (PANGO lineage B.1.621), was first identified in Colombia in January 2021 and was classified as a variant of interest (VOI) in August 2021, due to a constellation of mutations that likely-mediate an unexpectedly enhanced immune resistance to inactivated vaccine-elicited antibodies. Despite recent studies suggesting that the Mu variant appears to have less infectivity than the Delta variant, here we examined the structural effect of the Mu spike protein mutations and predicted the potential impact on infectivity of the Mu variant compared with the Delta and Delta plus spike protein.

4.
Virus Evol ; 8(1): veac024, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1774420

ABSTRACT

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic in Brazil was driven mainly by the spread of Gamma (P.1), a locally emerged variant of concern (VOC) that was first detected in early January 2021. This variant was estimated to be responsible for more than 96 per cent of cases reported between January and June 2021, being associated with increased transmissibility and disease severity, a reduction in neutralization antibodies and effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, and diagnostic detection failure. Here we show that, following several importations predominantly from the USA, the Delta variant rapidly replaced Gamma after July 2021. However, in contrast to what was seen in other countries, the rapid spread of Delta did not lead to a large increase in the number of cases and deaths reported in Brazil. We suggest that this was likely due to the relatively successful early vaccination campaign coupled with natural immunity acquired following prior infection with Gamma. Our data reinforce reports of the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant and, considering the increasing concern due to the recently identified Omicron variant, argues for the necessity to strengthen genomic monitoring on a national level to quickly detect the emergence and spread of other VOCs that might threaten global health.

5.
J Med Virol ; 94(4): 1689-1692, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1718387

ABSTRACT

The appearance of emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2 carrying mutations into the spike protein has recently raised concern with respect to tracking their transmission and mitigating the impact in the evolving pandemic across countries. AY.4.2, a recently detected Delta variant sublineage, is considered a new variant under investigation (VUI) as it carries specific genetic signatures present in the spike protein, called Y145H and A222V. Here, using genomic epidemiology, we provide the first preliminary insight regarding the circulation of this emerging VUI in Italy.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Genome, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , COVID-19/virology , Child , Female , Genomics , Humans , Italy/epidemiology , Male , Middle Aged , Molecular Epidemiology , Mutation , Phylogeny , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Young Adult
6.
J Med Virol ; 2021 Oct 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1718356

ABSTRACT

The Lambda variants of interest (VOI) (C37/GR/452Q.V1/21G) was initially reported in Lima, Peru but has gained rapid dissemination through other Latin American countries. Nevertheless, the dissemination and molecular epidemiology of the Lambda VOI in Brazil is unknown apart from a single case report. In this respect, we characterized the circulation of the SARS-CoV-2 Lambda VOI (C37/GR/452Q.V1/21G) in Sao Paulo State, Brazil. From March to June 2021, we identified seven Lambda isolates in a set of approximately 8000 newly sequenced genomes of the Network for Pandemic Alert of Emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants from Sao Paulo State. Interestingly, in three of the positive patients, the Lambda VOI infection was probably related to a contact transmission. These individuals were fully vaccinated to COVID-19 and presented mild symptoms. The remaining positive for Lambda VOI individuals showed different levels of COVID-19 symptoms and one of them needed hospitalization (score 5, WHO). In our study, we present a low level of Lambda VOI circulation in the Sao Paulo State. This reinforces the essential role of molecular surveillance for the effective SARS-CoV-2 pandemic response, especially in regard to circulating variants.

7.
J Med Virol ; 2022 Mar 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1712142

ABSTRACT

Delta VOC is highly diverse with more than 120 sublineages already described as of November 30, 2021. In this study, through active monitoring of circulating severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants in the state of São Paulo, southeast Brazil, we identified two emerging sublineages from the ancestral AY.43 strain which were classified as AY.43.1 and AY.43.2. These sublineages were defined by the following characteristic nonsynonymous mutations ORF1ab:A4133V and ORF3a:T14I for the AY.43.1 and ORF1ab:G1155C for the AY.43.2 and our analysis reveals that they might have a likely-Brazilian origin. Much is still unknown regarding their dissemination in the state of São Paulo and Brazil as well as their potential impact on the ongoing vaccination process. However, the results obtained in this study reinforce the importance of genomic surveillance activity for timely identification of emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants which can impact the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 vaccination and public health policies.

8.
EuropePMC;
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-327723

ABSTRACT

Genome sequencing proved to be an excellent tool to monitor the molecular epidemiology of the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, i.e., coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Some reports of infected, vaccinated individuals have aroused great interest because they are primarily being infected with circulating variants of concern (VOCs). To investigate the cases of infected, vaccinated individuals in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, we performed genomic monitoring to estimate the magnitude of the different VOCs in these cases. Nasopharyngeal swabs from infected (symptomatic and asymptomatic), fully vaccinated individuals (n=29) who were of varying age and had RT-qPCR Ct values of ≤30 were subjected to viral sequencing using Nanopore technology. Our analysis revealed that the Omicron variant was found in 99% of cases and that only one case was due to the Delta variant. Infected, fully vaccinated patients have a favorable clinical prognosis;however, within the community, they become viral carriers with the aggravating factor of viral dissemination of VOCs not neutralized by the vaccines.

9.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-306875

ABSTRACT

The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new viral infection caused by severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that was initially reported in city of Wuhan, China and afterwards spread globally. Genomic analyses revealed that SARS-CoV-2 is phylogenetically related to severe acute respiratory syndrome-like (SARS-like) Pangolin and Bat coronavirus specific isolates. In this study we focused on two proteins of Sars-CoV-2 surface: Envelope protein and Membrane protein. Sequences from Sars-CoV-2 isolates and other closely related virus were collected from the GenBank through TBlastN searches. The retrieved sequences were multiply aligned with MAFFT. The Envelope protein is identical to the counterparts from Pangolin CoV MP798 isolate and Bat CoV isolates CoVZXC21, CoVZC45 and RaTG13. However, a substitution at position 69 where an Arg replace for Glu, and a deletion in position 70 corresponding to Gly or Cys in other Envelope proteins were found. The Membrane glycoprotein appears more variable with respect to the SARS CoV proteins than the Envelope: a heterogeneity at the N-terminal position, exposed to the virus surface, was found between Pangolin CoV MP798 isolate and Bat CoV isolates CoVZXC21, CoVZC45 and RaTG13. Mutations observed on Envelope protein are drastic and may have significant implications for conformational properties and possibly for protein-protein interactions. Mutations on Membrane protein may also be relevant because this protein cooperates with the Spike during the cell attachment and entry. Therefore, these mutations may influence interaction with host cells. The mutations that have been detected in these comparative studies may reflect functional peculiarities of the Sars-CoV-2 virus and may help explaining the epizootic origin the COVID-19 epidemic.

10.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-306652

ABSTRACT

Background: The new Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), which was first detected in Wuhan (China) in December of 2019 is responsible for the current global pandemic.Phylogenetic analysis revealed that it is similar to other betacoronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV and Middle-Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, MERS-CoV. Its genome is ∼30 kb in length and contains two large overlapping polyproteins, ORF1a and ORF1ab that encode for several structural and non-structural proteins. The non-structural protein 1 (nsp1) is arguably the most important pathogenic determinant, and previous studies on SARS-CoV indicate that it is both involved in viral replication and hampering the innate immune system response. Detailed experiments of site-specific mutagenesis and in vitro reconstitution studies determined that the mechanisms of action are mediated by i) the presence of specific amino acid residues of nsp1 and b) the interaction between the protein and the host’s small ribosomal unit. In fact, substitution of certain amino acids resulted in reduction of its negative effects. Methods: : A total of 17928 genome sequences were obtained from the GISAID database (December 2019 to July 2020) from patients infected by SARS-CoV-2 from different areas around the world. Genomes alignment was performed using MAFFT (REFF) and the nsp1 genomic regions were identified using BioEdit and verified using BLAST. Nsp1 protein of SARS-CoV-2 with and without deletion have been subsequently modelled using I-TASSER. Results: We identified SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences, from several Countries, carrying a previously unknown deletion of 9 nucleotides in position 686-694, corresponding to the AA position 241-243 (KSF). This deletion was found in different geographical areas. Structural prediction modelling suggests an effect on the C-terminal tail structure. Conclusions: Modelling analysis of a newly identified deletion of 3 amino acids (KSF) of SARS-CoV-2 nsp1 suggests that this deletion could affect the structure of the C-terminal region of the protein, important for regulation of viral replication and negative effect on host’s gene expression. In addition, substitution of the two amino acids (KS) from nsp1 of SARS-CoV was previously reported to revert loss of interferon-alpha expression. The deletion that we describe indicates that SARS-CoV-2 is undergoing profound genomic changes. It is important to: i) confirm the spreading of this particular viral strain, and potentially of strains with other deletions in the nsp1 protein, both in the population of asymptomatic and pauci-symptomatic subjects, and ii) correlate these changes in nsp1 with potential decreased viral pathogenicity.

11.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-306348

ABSTRACT

Background: There are no known medicines or vaccines to control the COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 (nCoV). Antiviral peptides are superior to conventional drugs and may also be effective against COVID-19. Hence, we investigated the SARS-CoV-2 Spike RBD (nCoV-RBD) that interacts with hACE2 for viral attachment and entry. Methods: Three strategies and bioinformatics approaches were employed to design potential nCoV-RBD - hACE2 interaction-blocking peptides that may restrict viral attachment and entry. Firstly, the key residues interacting with nCoV-RBD - hACE2 are identified and hACE2 sequence based peptides are designed. Second, peptides from five antibacterial peptide databases that block nCoV-RBD are identified;finally, a chimeric peptide design approach is used to design peptides that can bind to key nCoV-RBD residues. The final peptides are selected based on their physiochemical properties, numbers and positions of key residues binding, binding energy, and antiviral properties. Results: We found (i) three amino acid stretches in hACE2 interact with nCoV-RBD;(ii) effective peptides must bind to three key positions of nCoV-RBD: Gly485/Phe486/Asn487, Gln493, and Gln498/Thr500/Asn501;(iii) Phe486, Gln493, and Asn501 are critical residues;(iv) AC20 and AC23 derived from hACE2 may block two key critical positions;(iv) DBP6 identified from databases can block the three sites of the nCoV-RBD interacting with one critical position Gln498;(v) seven chimeric peptides were considered promising among which cnCoVP-3, cnCoVP-4, and cnCoVP-7 are the top three;and (vi) cnCoVP-4 meets all the criteria and is the best peptide. Conclusion: All the ten peptides need experimental validation for their therapeutic efficacy.

12.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-305596

ABSTRACT

Background: SARS-CoV-2 that are the causal agent of a current pandemic are enveloped, positive-sense, single-stranded RNA viruses of the Coronaviridae family. Proteases of SARS-CoV-2 are necessary for viral replication, structural assembly and pathogenicity. The ~33.8KDa Mpro protease of SARS-CoV-2 is a non-human homologue and highly conserved among several coronaviruses indicating Mpro could be a potential drug target for Coronaviruses. Methods: Here we performed computational ligand screening of four pharmacophores (OEW, Remdesivir, Hydroxycholoquine and N3) that are presumed to have positive effects against SARS-CoV-2 Mpro protease (6LU7) and also screened 50,000 molecules from the ZINC Database dataset against this protease target. Results: We found 40 pharmacophore-like structures of natural compounds from diverse chemical classes that exhibited better affinity of docking as compared to the known ligands. The 10 best selected ligands namely, ZINC1845382, ZINC1875405, ZINC2092396, ZINC2104424, ZINC44018332, ZINC2101723, ZINC2094526, ZINC2094304, ZINC2104482, ZINC3984030, and ZINC1531664, are mainly classified as β-carboline, Alkaloids and Polyflavonoids, and all of them displayed interactions with dyad CYS145 and HIS41 from the protease pocket in a similar way as with other known ligands. Conclusion: Our results suggest that these 10 molecules could be effective against SARS-CoV-2 protease and may be tested in vitro and in vivo to develop novel drugs against this virus.

13.
Nature ; 603(7902): 679-686, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1638766

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in southern Africa has been characterized by three distinct waves. The first was associated with a mix of SARS-CoV-2 lineages, while the second and third waves were driven by the Beta (B.1.351) and Delta (B.1.617.2) variants, respectively1-3. In November 2021, genomic surveillance teams in South Africa and Botswana detected a new SARS-CoV-2 variant associated with a rapid resurgence of infections in Gauteng province, South Africa. Within three days of the first genome being uploaded, it was designated a variant of concern (Omicron, B.1.1.529) by the World Health Organization and, within three weeks, had been identified in 87 countries. The Omicron variant is exceptional for carrying over 30 mutations in the spike glycoprotein, which are predicted to influence antibody neutralization and spike function4. Here we describe the genomic profile and early transmission dynamics of Omicron, highlighting the rapid spread in regions with high levels of population immunity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Immune Evasion , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Botswana/epidemiology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/transmission , Humans , Models, Molecular , Mutation , Phylogeny , Recombination, Genetic , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , South Africa/epidemiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
17.
Viruses ; 13(12)2021 12 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1572669

ABSTRACT

Genotype screening was implemented in Italy and showed a significant prevalence of new SARS-CoV-2 mutants carrying Q675H mutation, near the furin cleavage site of spike protein. Currently, this mutation, which is expressed on different SARS-CoV-2 lineages circulating worldwide, has not been thoughtfully investigated. Therefore, we performed phylogenetic and biocomputational analysis to better understand SARS-CoV-2 Q675H mutants' evolutionary relationships with other circulating lineages and Q675H function in its molecular context. Our studies reveal that Q675H spike mutation is the result of parallel evolution because it arose independently in separate evolutionary clades. In silico data show that the Q675H mutation gives rise to a hydrogen-bonds network in the spike polar region. This results in an optimized directionality of arginine residues involved in interaction of spike with the furin binding pocket, thus improving proteolytic exposure of the viral protein. Furin was predicted to have a greater affinity for Q675H than Q675 substrate conformations. As a consequence, Q675H mutation could confer a fitness advantage to SARS-CoV-2 by promoting a more efficient viral entry. Interestingly, here we have shown that Q675H spike mutation is documented in all the VOCs. This finding highlights that VOCs are still evolving to enhance viral fitness and to adapt to the human host. At the same time, it may suggest Q675H spike mutation involvement in SARS-CoV-2 evolution.


Subject(s)
Furin/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Binding Sites , Genetic Fitness , Humans , Hydrogen Bonding , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Mutation , Phylogeny , Protein Binding , Protein Conformation , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry
18.
Viruses ; 13(12)2021 12 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1572657

ABSTRACT

The current COVID-19 pandemic demands massive testing by Real-time RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction), which is considered the gold standard diagnostic test for the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, the virus continues to evolve with mutations that lead to phenotypic alterations as higher transmissibility, pathogenicity or vaccine evasion. Another big issue are mutations in the annealing sites of primers and probes of RT-PCR diagnostic kits leading to false-negative results. Therefore, here we identify mutations in the N (Nucleocapsid) gene that affects the use of the GeneFinder COVID-19 Plus RealAmp Kit. We sequenced SARS-CoV-2 genomes from 17 positive samples with no N gene detection but with RDRP (RNA-dependent RNA polymerase) and E (Envelope) genes detection, and observed a set of three different mutations affecting the N detection: a deletion of 18 nucleotides (Del28877-28894), a substitution of GGG to AAC (28881-28883) and a frameshift mutation caused by deletion (Del28877-28878). The last one cause a deletion of six AAs (amino acids) located in the central intrinsic disorder region at protein level. We also found this mutation in 99 of the 14,346 sequenced samples by the Sao Paulo state Network for Pandemic Alert of Emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, demonstrating the circulation of the mutation in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Continuous monitoring and characterization of mutations affecting the annealing sites of primers and probes by genomic surveillance programs are necessary to maintain the effectiveness of the diagnosis of COVID-19.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing , COVID-19/diagnosis , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Brazil/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Coronavirus RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/genetics , DNA Primers , False Negative Reactions , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , Mutation , Phosphoproteins/genetics , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
19.
J Med Virol ; 94(4): 1257-1260, 2022 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1568203

ABSTRACT

The ongoing discussion about the real origin of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) feeds acrimonious debates. Where did SARS-CoV-2 come from? Was SARS-CoV-2 transmitted in the wild from an animal to a person before exploding in Wuhan or was it an engineered virus that escaped from research or a laboratory in Wuhan? Right now, we still don't know enough whether SARS-CoV-2 is human-made or not, and lab-leak theories remain essentially speculative. Many recent studies have pointed out several plausible scenarios. Anyhow, currently, even if suspicions by some about the possibility of lab-leak hypothesis still remain, the consensus view is that the pandemic probably started from a natural source and, to determine the real origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, further research is needed.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Animals , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , Biological Evolution , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , Humans , Laboratories , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Viral Zoonoses/epidemiology , Viral Zoonoses/transmission , Viral Zoonoses/virology
20.
2021.
Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-296139

ABSTRACT

The Beta variant of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in South Africa in late 2020 and rapidly became the dominant variant, causing over 95% of infections in the country during and after the second epidemic wave. Here we show rapid replacement of the Beta variant by the Delta variant, a highly transmissible variant of concern (VOC) that emerged in India and subsequently spread around the world. The Delta variant was imported to South Africa primarily from India, spread rapidly in large monophyletic clusters to all provinces, and became dominant within three months of introduction. This was associated with a resurgence in community transmission, leading to a third wave which was associated with a high number of deaths. We estimated a growth advantage for the Delta variant in South Africa of 0.089 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.084-0.093) per day which corresponds to a transmission advantage of 46% (95% CI 44-48) compared to the Beta variant. These data provide additional support for the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant relative to other VOC and highlight how dynamic shifts in the distribution of variants contribute to the ongoing public health threat.

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