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1.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2021 Dec 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2017792

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Residents of nursing homes (NH) are at high risk of COVID-19 related morbidity and death and may respond poorly to vaccination because of old age and frequent comorbidities. METHODS: Seventy-eight residents and 106 staff members, naïve or previously infected with SARS-CoV-2, were recruited in NH in Belgium before immunization with two doses of 30µg BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine at day 0 and day 21. Binding antibodies (Ab) to SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD), spike domains S1 and S2, RBD Ab avidity, and neutralizing Ab against SARS-CoV-2 wild type and B.1.351 were assessed at days 0, 21, 28, and 49. RESULTS: SARS-CoV-2 naïve residents had lower Ab responses to BNT162b2 mRNA vaccination than naïve staff. These poor responses involved lower levels of IgG to all spike domains, lower avidity of RBD IgG, and lower levels of Ab neutralizing the vaccine strain. No naïve resident had detectable neutralizing Ab to the B.1.351 variant. In contrast, SARS-CoV-2 infected residents had high responses to mRNA vaccination, with Ab levels comparable to infected staff. Cluster analysis revealed that poor vaccine responders not only included naïve residents but also naïve staff, emphasizing the heterogeneity of responses to mRNA vaccination in the general population. CONCLUSIONS: The poor Ab responses to mRNA vaccination observed in infection naïve residents and in some naïve staff members of NH suggest suboptimal protection against breakthrough infection, especially with variants of concern. These data support the administration of a third dose of mRNA vaccine to further improve protection of NH residents against COVID-19.

2.
Mol Ther ; 2022 Apr 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1796007

ABSTRACT

Self-amplifying RNA vaccines may induce equivalent or more potent immune responses at lower doses compared to non-replicating mRNA vaccines via amplified antigen expression. In this paper, we demonstrate that 1 µg of an LNP-formulated dual-antigen self-amplifying RNA vaccine (ZIP1642), encoding both the S-RBD and N antigen, elicits considerably higher neutralizing antibody titers against Wuhan-like Beta B.1.351 and Delta B.1.617.2 SARS-CoV-2 variants compared to those of convalescent patients. In addition, ZIP1642 vaccination in mice expanded both S- and N-specific CD3+CD4+ and CD3+CD8+ T cells and caused a Th1 shifted cytokine response. We demonstrate that the induction of such dual antigen-targeted cell-mediated immune response may provide better protection against variants displaying highly mutated Spike proteins, as infectious viral loads of both Wuhan-like and Beta variants were decreased after challenge of ZIP1642 vaccinated hamsters. Supported by these results, we encourage redirecting focus toward the induction of multiple antigen-targeted cell-mediated immunity in addition to neutralizing antibody responses to bypass waning antibody responses and attenuate infectious breakthrough and disease severity of future SARS-CoV-2 variants.

3.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-332495

ABSTRACT

1 Background The use of fractional dose regimens of COVID-19 vaccines has the potential to accelerate vaccination rates in low-income countries. Dose-finding studies of the mRNA vaccine BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) have suggested that a fractional dose induces comparable antibody responses to the full, licensed dose in people below 55 years old. Here, we report the safety and immunogenicity of a fractional dose regimen of the BNT162b2 vaccine. Methods REDU-VAC is a participant-blinded, randomised, phase 4, multicentre, non-inferiority study investigating safety, reactogenicity and immunogenicity of BNT162b2. Adults aged between 18 and 55 years, without uncontrolled co-morbidities, either previously infected or infection naïve, were eligible and recruited at five sites across Belgium. Participants were randomly assigned to receive 20µg/20µg (fractional dose) or 30µg/30µg (full dose) of BNT162b2, administered intra-muscularly at a three-week interval. The primary endpoint was the geometric mean ratio (GMR) of serum SARS-CoV-2 anti-RBD IgG titres at 28 days post second dose between the reduced and the full dose regimens. The reduced dose was considered non-inferior to the full dose if the lower limit of the two-sided 95% CI of the GMR was greater than 0.67. The primary analysis was done on the per-protocol population, including infection naïve participants only. Findings Between April 19 and April 23, 2021, 145 participants were enrolled in the study and randomized, of whom 141 were vaccinated and reached the primary endpoint. Participants were mostly female (69.5%), of European origin (95%), with a mean age of 40.4 years (SD 7.9). At 28 days post second dose, the geometric mean titre (GMT) of SARS-CoV-2 anti-RBD IgG of the reduced dose regimen (1,705 BAU/mL) was not non-inferior to the full dose regimen (2,387 BAU/mL), with a GMR of 0.714 (two-sided 95% CI 0.540-0.944). No serious adverse events occurred. Conclusions While non-inferiority of the reduced dose regimen was not demonstrated, the SARS-CoV-2 anti-RBD IgG titre was only moderately lower than that of the full dose regimen and, importantly, still markedly higher than the reported antibody response to the licensed adenoviral vector vaccines. These data suggest that reduced doses of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine may offer additional benefit as compared to the vaccines currently in use in most low and middle-income countries, warranting larger immunogenicity and effectiveness trials. The trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov ( NCT04852861 ).

4.
NPJ Vaccines ; 7(1): 35, 2022 Mar 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1735248

ABSTRACT

We report the levels of neutralising antibodies against Wuhan, Delta and Omicron variants in unimmunized infected (group 1), immunised and boosted (group 2) and infected immunised and boosted (group 3) adult individuals. Our observations support the rapid administration of a booster vaccine dose to prevent infection and disease caused by Omicron.

6.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2021 Dec 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1612468

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Residents of nursing homes (NH) are at high risk of COVID-19 related morbidity and death and may respond poorly to vaccination because of old age and frequent comorbidities. METHODS: Seventy-eight residents and 106 staff members, naïve or previously infected with SARS-CoV-2, were recruited in NH in Belgium before immunization with two doses of 30µg BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine at day 0 and day 21. Binding antibodies (Ab) to SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD), spike domains S1 and S2, RBD Ab avidity, and neutralizing Ab against SARS-CoV-2 wild type and B.1.351 were assessed at days 0, 21, 28, and 49. RESULTS: SARS-CoV-2 naïve residents had lower Ab responses to BNT162b2 mRNA vaccination than naïve staff. These poor responses involved lower levels of IgG to all spike domains, lower avidity of RBD IgG, and lower levels of Ab neutralizing the vaccine strain. No naïve resident had detectable neutralizing Ab to the B.1.351 variant. In contrast, SARS-CoV-2 infected residents had high responses to mRNA vaccination, with Ab levels comparable to infected staff. Cluster analysis revealed that poor vaccine responders not only included naïve residents but also naïve staff, emphasizing the heterogeneity of responses to mRNA vaccination in the general population. CONCLUSIONS: The poor Ab responses to mRNA vaccination observed in infection naïve residents and in some naïve staff members of NH suggest suboptimal protection against breakthrough infection, especially with variants of concern. These data support the administration of a third dose of mRNA vaccine to further improve protection of NH residents against COVID-19.

7.
2021.
Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-294504

ABSTRACT

Background SARS-CoV-2 human-to-animal transmission can lead to the establishment of novel reservoirs and the evolution of new variants with the potential to start new outbreaks in humans. Aim We tested Norway rats inhabiting the sewer system of Antwerp, Belgium, for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 following a local COVID-19 epidemic peak. In addition, we discuss the use and interpretation of SARS-CoV-2 serological tests on non-human samples. Methods Between November and December 2020, Norway rat oral swabs, feces and tissues from the sewer system of Antwerp were collected to be tested by RT-qPCR for the presence of SARS-CoV-2. Serum samples were screened for the presence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies using a Luminex microsphere immunoassay (MIA). Samples considered positive were then checked for neutralizing antibodies using a conventional viral neutralization test (cVNT). Results The serum of 35 rats was tested by MIA showing 3 potentially positive sera that were later shown to be negative by cVNT. All tissue samples of 39 rats analyzed tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Conclusion This is the first study that evaluates SARS-CoV-2 infection in urban rats. We can conclude that the sample of 39 rats had never been infected with SARS-CoV-2. We show that diagnostic serology tests can give misleading results when applied on non-human samples. SARS-CoV-2 monitoring activities should continue due to the emergence of new variants prone to infect Muridae rodents.

8.
J Hematol Oncol ; 14(1): 174, 2021 10 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1473657

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Factors affecting response to SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HCT) recipients remain to be elucidated. METHODS: Forty allo-HCT recipients were included in a study of immunization with BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine at days 0 and 21. Binding antibodies (Ab) to SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD) were assessed at days 0, 21, 28, and 49 while neutralizing Ab against SARS-CoV-2 wild type (NT50) were assessed at days 0 and 49. Results observed in allo-HCT patients were compared to those obtained in 40 healthy adults naive of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Flow cytometry analysis of peripheral blood cells was performed before vaccination to identify potential predictors of Ab responses. RESULTS: Three patients had detectable anti-RBD Ab before vaccination. Among the 37 SARS-CoV-2 naive patients, 20 (54%) and 32 (86%) patients had detectable anti-RBD Ab 21 days and 49 days postvaccination. Comparing anti-RBD Ab levels in allo-HCT recipients and healthy adults, we observed significantly lower anti-RBD Ab levels in allo-HCT recipients at days 21, 28 and 49. Further, 49% of allo-HCT patients versus 88% of healthy adults had detectable NT50 Ab at day 49 while allo-HCT recipients had significantly lower NT50 Ab titers than healthy adults (P = 0.0004). Ongoing moderate/severe chronic GVHD (P < 0.01) as well as rituximab administration in the year prior to vaccination (P < 0.05) correlated with low anti-RBD and NT50 Ab titers at 49 days after the first vaccination in multivariate analyses. Compared to healthy adults, allo-HCT patients without chronic GVHD or rituximab therapy had comparable anti-RBD Ab levels and NT50 Ab titers at day 49. Flow cytometry analyses before vaccination indicated that Ab responses in allo-HCT patients were strongly correlated with the number of memory B cells and of naive CD4+ T cells (r > 0.5, P < 0.01) and more weakly with the number of follicular helper T cells (r = 0.4, P = 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Chronic GVHD and rituximab administration in allo-HCT recipients are associated with reduced Ab responses to BNT162b2 vaccination. Immunological markers could help identify allo-HCT patients at risk of poor Ab response to mRNA vaccination. TRIAL REGISTRATION: The study was registered at clinicaltrialsregister.eu on 11 March 2021 (EudractCT # 2021-000673-83).


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/biosynthesis , COVID-19 Vaccines/therapeutic use , Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation/methods , Adult , Aged , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Humans , Middle Aged , Transplantation Conditioning , Transplantation Immunology , Transplantation, Homologous
9.
Emerg Infect Dis ; 27(8): 2179-2182, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1403444

ABSTRACT

We report 3 confirmed autochthonous tick-borne encephalitis cases in Belgium diagnosed during summer 2020. Clinicians should include this viral infection in the differential diagnosis for patients with etiologically unexplained neurologic manifestations, even for persons without recent travel history.


Subject(s)
Encephalitis Viruses, Tick-Borne , Encephalitis, Tick-Borne , Belgium/epidemiology , Encephalitis, Tick-Borne/diagnosis , Encephalitis, Tick-Borne/epidemiology , Humans , Travel
10.
JCI Insight ; 6(19)2021 10 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1376547

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUNDSARS-CoV-2 infection induces mucin overexpression, further promoting disease. Given that mucins are critical components of innate immunity, unraveling their expression profiles that dictate the course of disease could greatly enhance our understanding and management of COVID-19.METHODSUsing validated RT-PCR assays, we assessed mucin mRNA expression in the blood of patients with symptomatic COVID-19 compared with symptomatic patients without COVID-19 and healthy controls and correlated the data with clinical outcome parameters. Additionally, we analyzed mucin expression in mucus and lung tissue from patients with COVID-19 and investigated the effect of drugs for COVID-19 treatment on SARS-CoV-2-induced mucin expression in pulmonary epithelial cells.RESULTSWe identified a dynamic blood mucin mRNA signature that clearly distinguished patients with symptomatic COVID-19 from patients without COVID-19 based on expression of MUC1, MUC2, MUC4, MUC6, MUC13, MUC16, and MUC20 (AUCROC of 91.8%; sensitivity and specificity of 90.6% and 93.3%, respectively) and that discriminated between mild and critical COVID-19 based on the expression of MUC16, MUC20, and MUC21 (AUCROC of 89.1%; sensitivity and specificity of 90.0% and 85.7%, respectively). Differences in the transcriptional landscape of mucins in critical cases compared with mild cases identified associations with COVID-19 symptoms, respiratory support, organ failure, secondary infections, and mortality. Furthermore, we identified different mucins in the mucus and lung tissue of critically ill COVID-19 patients and showed the ability of baricitinib, tocilizumab, favipiravir, and remdesivir to suppress expression of SARS-CoV-2-induced mucins.CONCLUSIONThis multifaceted blood mucin mRNA signature showed the potential role of mucin profiling in diagnosing, estimating severity, and guiding treatment options in patients with COVID-19.FUNDINGThe Antwerp University Research and the Research Foundation Flanders COVID-19 funds.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/genetics , Mucins/genetics , RNA, Messenger/genetics , Adult , Aged , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/pathology , Female , Humans , Lung/drug effects , Lung/metabolism , Lung/pathology , Male , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Transcriptome/drug effects
11.
Transbound Emerg Dis ; 2021 Jul 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1295139

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 human-to-animal transmission can lead to the establishment of novel reservoirs and the evolution of new variants with the potential to start new outbreaks in humans. We tested Norway rats inhabiting the sewer system of Antwerp, Belgium, for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 following a local COVID-19 epidemic peak. In addition, we discuss the use and interpretation of SARS-CoV-2 serological tests on non-human samples. Between November and December 2020, Norway rat oral swabs, faeces and tissues from the sewer system of Antwerp were collected to be tested by RT-qPCR for the presence of SARS-CoV-2. Serum samples were screened for the presence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies using a Luminex microsphere immunoassay (MIA). Samples considered positive were then checked for neutralizing antibodies using a conventional viral neutralization test (cVNT). The serum of 35 rats was tested by MIA showing three potentially positive sera that were later negative by cVNT. All tissue samples of 39 rats analysed tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. This is the first study that evaluates SARS-CoV-2 infection in urban rats. We can conclude that the sample of rats analysed had never been infected with SARS-CoV-2. However, monitoring activities should continue due to the emergence of new variants prone to infect Muridae rodents.

12.
J Virol Methods ; 297: 114228, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1294030

ABSTRACT

High-throughput serological tests that can detect neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 are desirable for serosurveillance and vaccine efficacy evaluation. Although the conventional neutralization test (cVNT) remains the gold standard to confirm the presence of neutralizing antibodies in sera, the test is too labour-intensive for massive screening programs and less reproducible as live virus and cell culture is involved. Here, we performed an independent evaluation of a commercially available surrogate virus neutralization test (sVNT, GenScript cPass™) that can be done without biosafety level 3 containment in less than 2 h. When using the cVNT and a Luminex multiplex immunoassay (MIA) as reference, the sVNT obtained a sensitivity of 94 % (CI 90-96 %) on a panel of 317 immune sera that were obtained from hospitalized and mild COVID-19 cases from Belgium and a sensitivity of 88 % (CI 81-93 %) on a panel of 184 healthcare workers from the Democratic Republic of Congo. We also found strong antibody titer correlations (rs>0.8) among the different techniques used. In conclusion, our evaluation suggests that the sVNT could be a powerful tool to monitor/detect neutralising antibodies in cohort and population studies. The technique could be especially useful for vaccine evaluation studies in sub-Saharan Africa where the basic infrastructure to perform cVNTs is lacking.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , Humans , Neutralization Tests , Serologic Tests
13.
BMJ Open ; 11(6): e050824, 2021 06 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1288396

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: To describe prevalence and incidence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies among Belgian hospital healthcare workers (HCW) in April-December 2020. DESIGN: Prospective cohort study. Follow-up was originally planned until September and later extended. SETTING: Multicentre study, 17 hospitals. PARTICIPANTS: 50 HCW were randomly selected per hospital. HCW employed beyond the end of the study and whose profession involved contact with patients were eligible. 850 HCW entered the study in April-May 2020, 673 HCW (79%) attended the September visit and 308 (36%) the December visit. OUTCOME MEASURES: A semiquantitative ELISA was used to detect IgG against SARS-CoV-2 in serum (Euroimmun) at 10 time points. In seropositive samples, neutralising antibodies were measured using a virus neutralisation test. Real-time reverse transcription PCR (RT-qPCR) was performed to detect SARS-CoV-2 on nasopharyngeal swabs. Participant characteristics and the presence of symptoms were collected via an online questionnaire. RESULTS: Among all participants, 80% were women, 60% nurses and 21% physicians. Median age was 40 years. The seroprevalence remained relatively stable from April (7.7% (95% CI: 4.8% to 12.1%) to September (8.2% (95% CI: 5.7% to 11.6%)) and increased thereafter, reaching 19.7% (95% CI: 12.0% to 30.6%) in December 2020. 76 of 778 initially seronegative participants seroconverted during the follow-up (incidence: 205/1000 person-years). Among all seropositive individuals, 118/148 (80%) had a positive neutralisation test, 83/147 (56%) presented or reported a positive RT-qPCR, and 130/147 (88%) reported COVID-19-compatible symptoms at least once. However, only 46/73 (63%) of the seroconverters presented COVID-19-compatible symptoms in the month prior to seroconversion. CONCLUSIONS: The seroprevalence among hospital HCW was slightly higher than that of the general Belgian population but followed a similar evolution, suggesting that infection prevention and control measures were effective and should be strictly maintained. After two SARS-CoV-2 waves, 80% of HCW remained seronegative, justifying their prioritisation in the vaccination strategy. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT04373889.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Adult , Belgium/epidemiology , Female , Health Personnel , Hospitals , Humans , Incidence , Prevalence , Prospective Studies , Seroepidemiologic Studies , Vaccination
15.
J Virol Methods ; 288: 114025, 2021 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-939116

ABSTRACT

Large-scale serosurveillance of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) will only be possible if serological tests are sufficiently reliable, rapid and affordable. Many assays are either labour-intensive and require specialised facilities (e.g. virus neutralization assays), or are expensive with suboptimal specificity (e.g. commercial ELISAs and RDTs). Bead-based assays offer a cost-effective alternative and allow for multiplexing to test for antibodies against multiple antigens and against other pathogens. Here, we compare the performance of spike (S) and nucleocapsid (NP) antigens for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 specific IgG, IgM and IgA antibodies in a panel of sera that includes recent (up to six weeks after symptom onset, severe n = 44; and mild cases n = 52) and old infections (five months after symptom onset, mild n = 104), using a Luminex-bead based assay and comparison to a virus neutralization test. While we show that neutralizing antibody levels are significantly lower in mild than in severe cases, we demonstrate that a combination of the recombinant nucleocapsid protein (NP) and receptor-binding domain (RBD) results in highly specific (99 %) IgG antibody detection five months after infection in 96 % of cases. Although most severe Covid-19 cases developed a clear IgM and IgA response, titers fell below the detection threshold in more than 20 % of mild cases in our bead-based assay. In conclusion, our data supports the use of RBD and NP for the development of SARS-CoV-2 serological IgG bead-based assays.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/diagnosis , Immunoassay , Nucleocapsid Proteins/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Humans , Immunoassay/methods , Immunoassay/standards , Immunoglobulin A/blood , Immunoglobulin A/immunology , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Immunoglobulin M/blood , Immunoglobulin M/immunology , Neutralization Tests , ROC Curve
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