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Sci Rep ; 12(1): 11735, 2022 Jul 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1947493


Whole genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 has occurred at an unprecedented scale, and can be exploited for characterising outbreak risks at the fine-scale needed to inform control strategies. One setting at continued risk of COVID-19 outbreaks are higher education institutions, associated with student movements at the start of term, close living conditions within residential halls, and high social contact rates. Here we analysed SARS-CoV-2 whole genome sequences in combination with epidemiological data to investigate a large cluster of student cases associated with University of Glasgow accommodation in autumn 2020, Scotland. We identified 519 student cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection associated with this large cluster through contact tracing data, with 30% sequencing coverage for further analysis. We estimated at least 11 independent introductions of SARS-CoV-2 into the student population, with four comprising the majority of detected cases and consistent with separate outbreaks. These four outbreaks were curtailed within a week following implementation of control measures. The impact of student infections on the local community was short-term despite an underlying increase in community infections. Our study highlights the need for context-specific information in the formation of public health policy for higher educational settings.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Disease Outbreaks , Genomics , Health Planning , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , United States , Universities
Nat Microbiol ; 7(8): 1161-1179, 2022 Aug.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1921616


Vaccines based on the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 are a cornerstone of the public health response to COVID-19. The emergence of hypermutated, increasingly transmissible variants of concern (VOCs) threaten this strategy. Omicron (B.1.1.529), the fifth VOC to be described, harbours multiple amino acid mutations in spike, half of which lie within the receptor-binding domain. Here we demonstrate substantial evasion of neutralization by Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 variants in vitro using sera from individuals vaccinated with ChAdOx1, BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273. These data were mirrored by a substantial reduction in real-world vaccine effectiveness that was partially restored by booster vaccination. The Omicron variants BA.1 and BA.2 did not induce cell syncytia in vitro and favoured a TMPRSS2-independent endosomal entry pathway, these phenotypes mapping to distinct regions of the spike protein. Impaired cell fusion was determined by the receptor-binding domain, while endosomal entry mapped to the S2 domain. Such marked changes in antigenicity and replicative biology may underlie the rapid global spread and altered pathogenicity of the Omicron variant.

COVID-19 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Antibodies, Viral , BNT162 Vaccine , Humans , Membrane Glycoproteins/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Viral Envelope Proteins/metabolism , Virus Internalization
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-331670


Objective To determine how the severity of successively dominant SARS-CoV-2 variants has changed over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Design Prospective cohort analysis. Setting Community- and hospital- sequenced COVID-19 cases in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHS GG&C) Health Board (1.2 million people). Participants All sequenced non-nosocomial adult COVID-19 cases in NHS GG&C identified to be infected with the relevant SARS-CoV-2 lineage during the following analysis periods. B.1.177/Alpha analysis: 1st November 2020 - 30th January 2021 (n = 1640). Alpha/Delta analysis: 1st April - 30th June 2021 (n = 5552). AY.4.2 Delta/non-AY.4.2 Delta analysis: 1st July – 31st October 2021 (n = 9613). Non-AY.4.2 Delta/Omicron analysis: 1st – 31st December 2021 (n = 3858). Main outcome measures Admission to hospital, admission to ICU, or death within 28 days of first positive COVID-19 test Results In the B.1.177/Alpha analysis, 300 of 807 (37.2%) B.1.177 cases were recorded as hospitalised or having a more severe outcome, compared to 232 of 833 (27.9%) Alpha cases. After adjusting for the following covariates: age, sex, time of positive test, comorbidities and partial postcode, the cumulative odds ratio was 1.51 (95% central credible interval 1.08-2.11) for Alpha versus B.1.177. In the Alpha/Delta analysis, 113 of 2104 (5.4%) Alpha cases were recorded as hospitalised or having a more severe outcome, compared to 230 of 3448 (6.7%) Delta cases. After adjusting for the above covariates plus number of vaccine doses and reinfection, the cumulative odds ratio was 2.09 (95% central credible interval 1.42-3.08) for Delta versus Alpha. In the non-AY.4.2 Delta/AY.4.2 Delta analysis, 845 of 8644 (9.8%) non-AY.4.2 Delta cases were recorded as hospitalised or having a more severe outcome, compared to 101 of 969 (10.4%) AY.4.2 Delta cases. After adjusting for the previously stated covariates, the cumulative odds ratio was 0.99 (95% central credible interval 0.76-1.27) for AY.4.2 Delta versus non-AY.4.2 Delta. In the non-AY.4.2 Delta/Omicron analysis, 30 of 1164 (2.6%) non-AY.4.2 Delta cases were recorded as hospitalised or having a more severe outcome, compared to 26 of 2694 (1.0%) Omicron cases. After adjusting for the previously listed covariates, the median cumulative odds ratio was 0.49 (95% central credible interval 0.22-1.06) for Omicron versus non-AY.4.2 Delta. Conclusions The direction of change in disease severity between successively emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern was inconsistent. This heterogeneity in virulence between variants, coupled with independent evolutionary emergence, demonstrates that severity associated with future SARS-CoV-2 variants is inherently unpredictable.

Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-295699


Background The B.1.1.7 (Alpha) SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern was associated with increased transmission relative to other variants present at the time of its emergence and several studies have shown an association between the B.1.1.7 lineage infection and increased 28-day mortality. However, to date none have addressed the impact of infection on severity of illness or the need for oxygen or ventilation. Methods In this prospective clinical cohort sub-study of the COG-UK consortium, 1475 samples from hospitalised and community cases collected between the 1 st November 2020 and 30 th January 2021 were collected. These samples were sequenced in local laboratories and analysed for the presence of B.1.1.7-defining mutations. We prospectively matched sequence data to clinical outcomes as the lineage became dominant in Scotland and modelled the association between B.1.1.7 infection and severe disease using a 4-point scale of maximum severity by 28 days: 1. no support, 2. oxygen, 3. ventilation and 4. death. Additionally, we calculated an estimate of the growth rate of B.1.1.7-associated infections following introduction into Scotland using phylogenetic data. Results B.1.1.7 was responsible for a third wave of SARS-CoV-2 in Scotland, and rapidly replaced the previously dominant second wave lineage B.1.177) due to a significantly higher transmission rate (∼5 fold). Of 1475 patients, 364 were infected with B.1.1.7, 1030 with B.1.177 and 81 with other lineages. Our cumulative generalised linear mixed model analyses found evidence (cumulative odds ratio: 1.40, 95% CI: 1.02, 1.93) of a positive association between increased clinical severity and lineage (B.1.1.7 versus non-B.1.1.7). Viral load was higher in B.1.1.7 samples than in non-B.1.1.7 samples as measured by cycle threshold (Ct) value (mean Ct change: -2.46, 95% CI: -4.22, -0.70). Conclusions The B.1.1.7 lineage was associated with more severe clinical disease in Scottish patients than co-circulating lineages. Funding COG-UK is supported by funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC) part of UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and Genome Research Limited, operating as the Wellcome Sanger Institute. Funding was also provided by UKRI through the JUNIPER consortium (grant number MR/V038613/1). Sequencing and bioinformatics support was funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) core award (MC UU 1201412).

Nat Microbiol ; 6(1): 112-122, 2021 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-989837


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first diagnosed in Scotland on 1 March 2020. During the first month of the outbreak, 2,641 cases of COVID-19 led to 1,832 hospital admissions, 207 intensive care admissions and 126 deaths. We aimed to identify the source and number of introductions of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) into Scotland using a combined phylogenetic and epidemiological approach. Sequencing of 1,314 SARS-CoV-2 viral genomes from available patient samples enabled us to estimate that SARS-CoV-2 was introduced to Scotland on at least 283 occasions during February and March 2020. Epidemiological analysis confirmed that early introductions of SARS-CoV-2 originated from mainland Europe (the majority from Italy and Spain). We identified subsequent early outbreaks in the community, within healthcare facilities and at an international conference. Community transmission occurred after 2 March, 3 weeks before control measures were introduced. Earlier travel restrictions or quarantine measures, both locally and internationally, would have reduced the number of COVID-19 cases in Scotland. The risk of multiple reintroduction events in future waves of infection remains high in the absence of population immunity.

COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Adult , Aged , Europe/epidemiology , Genome, Viral , High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Molecular Epidemiology , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Spain/epidemiology , Travel/statistics & numerical data