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2.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-333133

ABSTRACT

Expanding the arsenal of prophylactic approaches against SARS-CoV-2 is of utmost importance, specifically those strategies that are resistant to antigenic drift in Spike. Here, we conducted a screen with over 16,000 RNAi triggers against the SARS-CoV-2 genome using a massively parallel assay to identify hyper-potent siRNAs. We selected 10 candidates for in vitro validation and found five siRNAs that exhibited hyper-potent activity with IC50<20pM and strong neutralisation in live virus experiments. We further enhanced the activity by combinatorial pairing of the siRNA candidates to develop siRNA cocktails and found that these cocktails are active against multiple types of variants of concern (VOC). We examined over 2,000 possible mutations to the siRNA target sites using saturation mutagenesis and identified broad protection against future variants. Finally, we demonstrated that intranasal administration of the siRNA cocktail effectively attenuates clinical signs and viral measures of disease in the Syrian hamster model. Our results pave the way to development of an additional layer of antiviral prophylaxis that is orthogonal to vaccines and monoclonal antibodies.

4.
Nature ; 603(7902): 706-714, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1764186

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BA.1 variant emerged in 20211 and has multiple mutations in its spike protein2. Here we show that the spike protein of Omicron has a higher affinity for ACE2 compared with Delta, and a marked change in its antigenicity increases Omicron's evasion of therapeutic monoclonal and vaccine-elicited polyclonal neutralizing antibodies after two doses. mRNA vaccination as a third vaccine dose rescues and broadens neutralization. Importantly, the antiviral drugs remdesivir and molnupiravir retain efficacy against Omicron BA.1. Replication was similar for Omicron and Delta virus isolates in human nasal epithelial cultures. However, in lung cells and gut cells, Omicron demonstrated lower replication. Omicron spike protein was less efficiently cleaved compared with Delta. The differences in replication were mapped to the entry efficiency of the virus on the basis of spike-pseudotyped virus assays. The defect in entry of Omicron pseudotyped virus to specific cell types effectively correlated with higher cellular RNA expression of TMPRSS2, and deletion of TMPRSS2 affected Delta entry to a greater extent than Omicron. Furthermore, drug inhibitors targeting specific entry pathways3 demonstrated that the Omicron spike inefficiently uses the cellular protease TMPRSS2, which promotes cell entry through plasma membrane fusion, with greater dependency on cell entry through the endocytic pathway. Consistent with suboptimal S1/S2 cleavage and inability to use TMPRSS2, syncytium formation by the Omicron spike was substantially impaired compared with the Delta spike. The less efficient spike cleavage of Omicron at S1/S2 is associated with a shift in cellular tropism away from TMPRSS2-expressing cells, with implications for altered pathogenesis.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , Membrane Fusion , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Virus Internalization , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Cell Line , Cell Membrane/metabolism , Cell Membrane/virology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Convalescence , Female , Humans , Immune Sera/immunology , Intestines/pathology , Intestines/virology , Lung/pathology , Lung/virology , Male , Middle Aged , Mutation , Nasal Mucosa/pathology , Nasal Mucosa/virology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Tissue Culture Techniques , Virulence , Virus Replication
5.
Cell Rep ; 38(7): 110393, 2022 02 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1719435

ABSTRACT

B cells are important in immunity to both severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and vaccination, but B cell receptor (BCR) repertoire development in these contexts has not been compared. We analyze serial samples from 171 SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals and 63 vaccine recipients and find the global BCR repertoire differs between them. Following infection, immunoglobulin (Ig)G1/3 and IgA1 BCRs increase, somatic hypermutation (SHM) decreases, and, in severe disease, IgM and IgA clones are expanded. In contrast, after vaccination, the proportion of IgD/M BCRs increase, SHM is unchanged, and expansion of IgG clones is prominent. VH1-24, which targets the N-terminal domain (NTD) and contributes to neutralization, is expanded post infection except in the most severe disease. Infection generates a broad distribution of SARS-CoV-2-specific clones predicted to target the spike protein, while a more focused response after vaccination mainly targets the spike's receptor-binding domain. Thus, the nature of SARS-CoV-2 exposure differentially affects BCR repertoire development, potentially informing vaccine strategies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell/immunology , Vaccination , B-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Clonal Evolution , Humans , Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains/genetics , Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains/immunology , Immunoglobulin Isotypes/genetics , Immunoglobulin Isotypes/immunology , Immunoglobulin Variable Region/genetics , Immunoglobulin Variable Region/immunology , Kinetics , Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Severity of Illness Index , Somatic Hypermutation, Immunoglobulin/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
6.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 2883, 2022 02 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1707349

ABSTRACT

We report the development of a large scale process for heat inactivation of clinical COVID-19 samples prior to laboratory processing for detection of SARS-CoV-2 by RT-qPCR. With more than 266 million confirmed cases, over 5.26 million deaths already recorded at the time of writing, COVID-19 continues to spread in many parts of the world. Consequently, mass testing for SARS-CoV-2 will remain at the forefront of the COVID-19 response and prevention for the near future. Due to biosafety considerations the standard testing process requires a significant amount of manual handling of patient samples within calibrated microbiological safety cabinets. This makes the process expensive, effects operator ergonomics and restricts testing to higher containment level laboratories. We have successfully modified the process by using industrial catering ovens for bulk heat inactivation of oropharyngeal/nasopharyngeal swab samples within their secondary containment packaging before processing in the lab to enable all subsequent activities to be performed in the open laboratory. As part of a validation process, we tested greater than 1200 clinical COVID-19 samples and showed less than 1 Cq loss in RT-qPCR test sensitivity. We also demonstrate the bulk heat inactivation protocol inactivates a murine surrogate of human SARS-CoV-2. Using bulk heat inactivation, the assay is no longer reliant on containment level 2 facilities and practices, which reduces cost, improves operator safety and ergonomics and makes the process scalable. In addition, heating as the sole method of virus inactivation is ideally suited to streamlined and more rapid workflows such as 'direct to PCR' assays that do not involve RNA extraction or chemical neutralisation methods.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , Containment of Biohazards/methods , Hot Temperature , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Specimen Handling/methods , Virus Inactivation , Animals , COVID-19/virology , Cell Line , Humans , Mice , Murine hepatitis virus/genetics , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA, Viral/isolation & purification , Sensitivity and Specificity
7.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-314462

ABSTRACT

B cells play a central role in the immune response to both SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination, but the development of the B cell receptor (BCR) repertoire in both contexts has not been defined nor compared. We analysed serial samples from 171 SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals with a range of disease severities together with 63 vaccine recipients, and found marked differences in the global BCR repertoire after natural infection compared to vaccination. Following infection, the proportion of BCRs bearing IgG1/3 and IgA1 isotypes increased, somatic hypermutation (SHM) was markedly decreased and, in patients with severe disease, expansion of IgM and IgA clones was observed. In contrast, after vaccination the proportion of BCRs bearing IgD/M isotypes increased, SHM was unchanged and expansion of IgG clones was prominent. Infection generated a broad distribution of SARS-CoV-2-specific clones predicted to target the spike protein whilst vaccination produced a more focused response mainly targeting the spike’s receptor-binding domain. These findings offer insights into how different immune exposure to SARS-CoV-2 impacts upon BCR repertoire development, potentially informing vaccine strategies.Funding: We are grateful to CVC Capital Partners, the Evelyn Trust (20/75), Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust, Cambridge University Hospitals (12/20A), the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre, and the UKRI/NIHR through the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium (UK-CIC) for their financial support. Further support: K.G.C.S.: Wellcome Investigator Award (200871/Z/16/Z);C.H.: Wellcome COVID-19 Rapid Response DCF and the Fondation Botnar;N.M.: MRC (CSF MR/P008801/1), NHSBT (WPA15-02), and Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust, (grant ref. to 900239 NJM);I.G.G.: Wellcome Senior Fellowship and Wellcome grant (Ref: 207498/Z/17/Z);N.M. was funded by the MRC (CSF MR/P008801/1), NHSBT (WPA15-02) and Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (grant ref. to 900239 NJM);RKG is supported by a Wellcome Trust Senior Fellowship in Clinical Science (WT108082AIA). Z.K.T. and M.R.C. are supported by a Medical Research Council Human Cell Atlas Research Grant (MR/S035842/1). M.R.C is supported by an NIHR Research Professorship (RP-2017-08-ST2- 002). P.K. is the recipient of a Jacquot Research Entry Scholarship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians Foundation. W.M.R. is funded by the Wellcome Trust (216382/Z/19/Z). We would like to thank the NIHR Cambridge Clinical Research Facility outreach team for enrolment of patients;the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre Cell Phenotyping Hub and the CRUK Cambridge Institute flow cytometry core facility for flow and mass cytometry;and the Cambridge NIHR BRC Stratified Medicine Core Laboratory NGS Hub (supported by an MRC Clinical Infrastructure Award) for BCR sequencing. Declaration of Interests: The authors declare they have no competing interests.Ethics Approval Statement: Ethical approval was obtained from the East of England – Cambridge Central Research Ethics Committee (“NIHR BioResource” REC ref 17/EE/0025, and “Genetic variation AND Altered Leucocyte Function in health and disease - GANDALF” REC ref 08/H0308/176). All participants provided informed consent.

8.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-304909

ABSTRACT

Understanding the drivers for spread of SARS-CoV-2 in higher education settings is important to limit transmission between students, and onward spread into at-risk populations. In this study, we prospectively sequenced 482 SARS-CoV-2 isolates derived from asymptomatic student screening and symptomatic testing of students and staff at the University of Cambridge from 5 October to 6 December 2020. We performed a detailed phylogenetic comparison with 972 isolates from the surrounding community, complemented with epidemiological and contact tracing data, to determine transmission dynamics. After a limited number of viral introductions into the university, the majority of student cases were linked to a single genetic cluster, likely dispersed across the university following social gatherings at a venue outside the university. We identified considerable onward transmission associated with student accommodation and courses;this was effectively contained using local infection control measures and dramatically reduced following a national lockdown. We observed that transmission clusters were largely segregated within the university or within the community. This study highlights key determinants of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and effective interventions in a higher education setting that will inform public health policy during pandemics.

9.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-309319

ABSTRACT

We report the development of a large scale process for heat inactivation of clinical COVID-19 samples prior to laboratory processing for detection of SARS-CoV-2 by RT-qPCR. With more than 120 million confirmed cases, over 3.8 million deaths already recorded at the time of writing, COVID-19 continues to spread in many parts of the world. Consequently, mass testing for SARS-CoV-2 will remain at the forefront of the COVID-19 response and prevention for the near future. Due to biosafety considerations the standard testing process requires a significant amount of manual handling of patient samples within calibrated microbiological safety cabinets. This makes the process expensive, effects operator ergonomics and restricts testing to higher containment level laboratories. We have successfully modified the process by using industrial catering ovens for bulk heat inactivation of oropharyngeal/nasopharyngeal swab samples within their secondary containment packaging before processing in the lab to enable all subsequent activities to be performed in the open laboratory. As part of a validation process, we tested greater than 1200 clinical COVID-19 samples and showed less than 1 Cq loss in RT-qPCR test sensitivity. We also demonstrate the bulk heat inactivation protocol inactivates a murine surrogate of human SARS-CoV-2. Using bulk heat inactivation, the assay is no longer reliant on containment level 2 facilities and practices, which reduces cost, improves operator safety and ergonomics and makes the process scalable. In addition, heating as the sole method of virus inactivation is ideally suited to streamlined and more rapid workflows such as ‘direct to PCR’ assays that do not involve RNA extraction or chemical neutralisation methods.

10.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 751, 2022 02 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1684022

ABSTRACT

Understanding SARS-CoV-2 transmission in higher education settings is important to limit spread between students, and into at-risk populations. In this study, we sequenced 482 SARS-CoV-2 isolates from the University of Cambridge from 5 October to 6 December 2020. We perform a detailed phylogenetic comparison with 972 isolates from the surrounding community, complemented with epidemiological and contact tracing data, to determine transmission dynamics. We observe limited viral introductions into the university; the majority of student cases were linked to a single genetic cluster, likely following social gatherings at a venue outside the university. We identify considerable onward transmission associated with student accommodation and courses; this was effectively contained using local infection control measures and following a national lockdown. Transmission clusters were largely segregated within the university or the community. Our study highlights key determinants of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and effective interventions in a higher education setting that will inform public health policy during pandemics.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Universities , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/virology , Contact Tracing , Genome, Viral/genetics , Genomics , Humans , Phylogeny , RNA, Viral/genetics , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Students , United Kingdom/epidemiology , Universities/statistics & numerical data
11.
Mol Biol Evol ; 39(3)2022 03 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1672233

ABSTRACT

Identifying linked cases of infection is a critical component of the public health response to viral infectious diseases. In a clinical context, there is a need to make rapid assessments of whether cases of infection have arrived independently onto a ward, or are potentially linked via direct transmission. Viral genome sequence data are of great value in making these assessments, but are often not the only form of data available. Here, we describe A2B-COVID, a method for the rapid identification of potentially linked cases of COVID-19 infection designed for clinical settings. Our method combines knowledge about infection dynamics, data describing the movements of individuals, and evolutionary analysis of genome sequences to assess whether data collected from cases of infection are consistent or inconsistent with linkage via direct transmission. A retrospective analysis of data from two wards at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust during the first wave of the pandemic showed qualitatively different patterns of linkage between cases on designated COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 wards. The subsequent real-time application of our method to data from the second epidemic wave highlights its value for monitoring cases of infection in a clinical context.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Hospitals , Humans , Pandemics , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
12.
Cell reports ; 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1661209

ABSTRACT

Kotagiri et al. find that SARS-CoV-2 infection versus vaccination induces distinct changes in the B cell receptor repertoire, including prominent clonal expansion in IgA and IgM after infection, but IgG after vaccination. A broad anti-spike response to infection contrasts with a narrower RBD-focused one after vaccination, potentially informing vaccination strategies.

13.
Nature ; 602(7897): 487-495, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1585830

ABSTRACT

The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern suggests viral adaptation to enhance human-to-human transmission1,2. Although much effort has focused on the characterization of changes in the spike protein in variants of concern, mutations outside of spike are likely to contribute to adaptation. Here, using unbiased abundance proteomics, phosphoproteomics, RNA sequencing and viral replication assays, we show that isolates of the Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant3 suppress innate immune responses in airway epithelial cells more effectively than first-wave isolates. We found that the Alpha variant has markedly increased subgenomic RNA and protein levels of the nucleocapsid protein (N), Orf9b and Orf6-all known innate immune antagonists. Expression of Orf9b alone suppressed the innate immune response through interaction with TOM70, a mitochondrial protein that is required for activation of the RNA-sensing adaptor MAVS. Moreover, the activity of Orf9b and its association with TOM70 was regulated by phosphorylation. We propose that more effective innate immune suppression, through enhanced expression of specific viral antagonist proteins, increases the likelihood of successful transmission of the Alpha variant, and may increase in vivo replication and duration of infection4. The importance of mutations outside the spike coding region in the adaptation of SARS-CoV-2 to humans is underscored by the observation that similar mutations exist in the N and Orf9b regulatory regions of the Delta and Omicron variants.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Evolution, Molecular , Immune Evasion , Immunity, Innate/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , COVID-19/transmission , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/chemistry , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/metabolism , Humans , Immunity, Innate/genetics , Interferons/immunology , Phosphoproteins/chemistry , Phosphoproteins/metabolism , Phosphorylation , Proteomics , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA-Seq , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development
14.
Carbon ; 183:232-242, 2021.
Article in English | Academic Search Complete | ID: covidwho-1404498

ABSTRACT

Exposure to expired particles and droplets carrying infectious viruses is a primary transmission pathway for respiratory diseases. Removal of particles and droplets via filtration from a volume can drastically reduce the exposure to viruses, but viruses may remain active on filtration surfaces as potential resuspension or fomite risks. Here, we report the development of macroscopic carbon nanotube air filters synthesized using ultra-thin carbon nanotube electrically conductive membranes, mechanically supported by a porous polyester backing. Filtration efficiencies were measured up to 99.999%, while ultra-thin materials with low areal density (0.1 g m─2) exhibited pressure drops comparable to commercial High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. These electrically conductive filters are actively self-sanitized by thermal flashes via resistive heating to temperatures above 80 °C within seconds or less. Such temperatures were proven to achieve full deactivation of a betacoronavirus and an adeno-associated virus retained on filter surfaces. A filtration unit prototype equipped with a CNT filter module (∼1.2 m2) was shown to achieve air purification of 99% of a room within 10 min at 26 air changes per hour. [Display omitted] [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR] Copyright of Carbon is the property of Elsevier B.V. and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)

15.
Nature ; 592(7853): 277-282, 2021 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1387425

ABSTRACT

The spike protein of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is critical for virus infection through the engagement of the human ACE2 protein1 and is a major antibody target. Here we show that chronic infection with SARS-CoV-2 leads to viral evolution and reduced sensitivity to neutralizing antibodies in an immunosuppressed individual treated with convalescent plasma, by generating whole-genome ultra-deep sequences for 23 time points that span 101 days and using in vitro techniques to characterize the mutations revealed by sequencing. There was little change in the overall structure of the viral population after two courses of remdesivir during the first 57 days. However, after convalescent plasma therapy, we observed large, dynamic shifts in the viral population, with the emergence of a dominant viral strain that contained a substitution (D796H) in the S2 subunit and a deletion (ΔH69/ΔV70) in the S1 N-terminal domain of the spike protein. As passively transferred serum antibodies diminished, viruses with the escape genotype were reduced in frequency, before returning during a final, unsuccessful course of convalescent plasma treatment. In vitro, the spike double mutant bearing both ΔH69/ΔV70 and D796H conferred modestly decreased sensitivity to convalescent plasma, while maintaining infectivity levels that were similar to the wild-type virus.The spike substitution mutant D796H appeared to be the main contributor to the decreased susceptibility to neutralizing antibodies, but this mutation resulted in an infectivity defect. The spike deletion mutant ΔH69/ΔV70 had a twofold higher level of infectivity than wild-type SARS-CoV-2, possibly compensating for the reduced infectivity of the D796H mutation. These data reveal strong selection on SARS-CoV-2 during convalescent plasma therapy, which is associated with the emergence of viral variants that show evidence of reduced susceptibility to neutralizing antibodies in immunosuppressed individuals.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/therapy , COVID-19/virology , Evolution, Molecular , Mutagenesis/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Adenosine Monophosphate/analogs & derivatives , Adenosine Monophosphate/pharmacology , Adenosine Monophosphate/therapeutic use , Aged , Alanine/analogs & derivatives , Alanine/pharmacology , Alanine/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Chronic Disease , Genome, Viral/drug effects , Genome, Viral/genetics , High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing , Humans , Immune Evasion/drug effects , Immune Evasion/genetics , Immune Evasion/immunology , Immune Tolerance/drug effects , Immune Tolerance/immunology , Immunization, Passive , Male , Mutant Proteins/chemistry , Mutant Proteins/genetics , Mutant Proteins/immunology , Mutation , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Time Factors , Viral Load/drug effects , Virus Shedding
16.
Elife ; 102021 08 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1371047

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 is notable both for its rapid spread, and for the heterogeneity of its patterns of transmission, with multiple published incidences of superspreading behaviour. Here, we applied a novel network reconstruction algorithm to infer patterns of viral transmission occurring between patients and health care workers (HCWs) in the largest clusters of COVID-19 infection identified during the first wave of the epidemic at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, UK. Based upon dates of individuals reporting symptoms, recorded individual locations, and viral genome sequence data, we show an uneven pattern of transmission between individuals, with patients being much more likely to be infected by other patients than by HCWs. Further, the data were consistent with a pattern of superspreading, whereby 21% of individuals caused 80% of transmission events. Our study provides a detailed retrospective analysis of nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 transmission, and sheds light on the need for intensive and pervasive infection control procedures.


The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, presents a global public health challenge. Hospitals have been at the forefront of this battle, treating large numbers of sick patients over several waves of infection. Finding ways to manage the spread of the virus in hospitals is key to protecting vulnerable patients and workers, while keeping hospitals running, but to generate effective infection control, researchers must understand how SARS-CoV-2 spreads. A range of factors make studying the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in hospitals tricky. For instance, some people do not present any symptoms, and, amongst those who do, it can be difficult to determine whether they caught the virus in the hospital or somewhere else. However, comparing the genetic information of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from different people in a hospital could allow scientists to understand how it spreads. Samples of the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 can be obtained by swabbing infected individuals. If the genetic sequences of two samples are very different, it is unlikely that the individuals who provided the samples transmitted the virus to one another. Illingworth, Hamilton et al. used this information, along with other data about how SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted, to develop an algorithm that can determine how the virus spreads from person to person in different hospital wards. To build their algorithm, Illingworth, Hamilton et al. collected SARS-CoV-2 genetic data from patients and staff in a hospital, and combined it with information about how SARS-CoV-2 spreads and how these people moved in the hospital . The algorithm showed that, for the most part, patients were infected by other patients (20 out of 22 cases), while staff were infected equally by patients and staff. By further probing these data, Illingworth, Hamilton et al. revealed that 80% of hospital-acquired infections were caused by a group of just 21% of individuals in the study, identifying a 'superspreader' pattern. These findings may help to inform SARS-CoV-2 infection control measures to reduce spread within hospitals, and could potentially be used to improve infection control in other contexts.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , Disease Outbreaks/statistics & numerical data , Hospitals/statistics & numerical data , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Retrospective Studies
17.
Elife ; 102021 08 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1357606

ABSTRACT

Monitoring the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and reconstructing transmission chains has become a major public health focus for many governments around the world. The modest mutation rate and rapid transmission of SARS-CoV-2 prevents the reconstruction of transmission chains from consensus genome sequences, but within-host genetic diversity could theoretically help identify close contacts. Here we describe the patterns of within-host diversity in 1181 SARS-CoV-2 samples sequenced to high depth in duplicate. 95.1% of samples show within-host mutations at detectable allele frequencies. Analyses of the mutational spectra revealed strong strand asymmetries suggestive of damage or RNA editing of the plus strand, rather than replication errors, dominating the accumulation of mutations during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Within- and between-host diversity show strong purifying selection, particularly against nonsense mutations. Recurrent within-host mutations, many of which coincide with known phylogenetic homoplasies, display a spectrum and patterns of purifying selection more suggestive of mutational hotspots than recombination or convergent evolution. While allele frequencies suggest that most samples result from infection by a single lineage, we identify multiple putative examples of co-infection. Integrating these results into an epidemiological inference framework, we find that while sharing of within-host variants between samples could help the reconstruction of transmission chains, mutational hotspots and rare cases of superinfection can confound these analyses.


The COVID-19 pandemic has had major health impacts across the globe. The scientific community has focused much attention on finding ways to monitor how the virus responsible for the pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, spreads. One option is to perform genetic tests, known as sequencing, on SARS-CoV-2 samples to determine the genetic code of the virus and to find any differences or mutations in the genes between the viral samples. Viruses mutate within their hosts and can develop into variants that are able to more easily transmit between hosts. Genetic sequencing can reveal how genetically similar two SARS-CoV-2 samples are. But tracking how SARS-CoV-2 moves from one person to the next through sequencing can be tricky. Even a sample of SARS-CoV-2 viruses from the same individual can display differences in their genetic material or within-host variants. Could genetic testing of within-host variants shed light on factors driving SARS-CoV-2 to evolve in humans? To get to the bottom of this, Tonkin-Hill, Martincorena et al. probed the genetics of SARS-CoV-2 within-host variants using 1,181 samples. The analyses revealed that 95.1% of samples contained within-host variants. A number of variants occurred frequently in many samples, which were consistent with mutational hotspots in the SARS-CoV-2 genome. In addition, within-host variants displayed mutation patterns that were similar to patterns found between infected individuals. The shared within-host variants between samples can help to reconstruct transmission chains. However, the observed mutational hotspots and the detection of multiple strains within an individual can make this challenging. These findings could be used to help predict how SARS-CoV-2 evolves in response to interventions such as vaccines. They also suggest that caution is needed when using information on within-host variants to determine transmission between individuals.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/physiopathology , Genetic Variation , Genome, Viral , Host-Pathogen Interactions/genetics , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Base Sequence , Humans , Pandemics , Phylogeny
18.
Immunity ; 54(6): 1257-1275.e8, 2021 06 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1230571

ABSTRACT

The kinetics of the immune changes in COVID-19 across severity groups have not been rigorously assessed. Using immunophenotyping, RNA sequencing, and serum cytokine analysis, we analyzed serial samples from 207 SARS-CoV2-infected individuals with a range of disease severities over 12 weeks from symptom onset. An early robust bystander CD8+ T cell immune response, without systemic inflammation, characterized asymptomatic or mild disease. Hospitalized individuals had delayed bystander responses and systemic inflammation that was already evident near symptom onset, indicating that immunopathology may be inevitable in some individuals. Viral load did not correlate with this early pathological response but did correlate with subsequent disease severity. Immune recovery is complex, with profound persistent cellular abnormalities in severe disease correlating with altered inflammatory responses, with signatures associated with increased oxidative phosphorylation replacing those driven by cytokines tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin (IL)-6. These late immunometabolic and immune defects may have clinical implications.


Subject(s)
CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Host-Pathogen Interactions/immunology , Lymphocyte Activation/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Biomarkers , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/metabolism , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/genetics , Cytokines/metabolism , Disease Susceptibility , Gene Expression Profiling , Humans , Inflammation Mediators/metabolism , Longitudinal Studies , Lymphocyte Activation/genetics , Oxidative Phosphorylation , Phenotype , Prognosis , Reactive Oxygen Species/metabolism , Severity of Illness Index , Transcriptome
19.
Elife ; 102021 03 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1112865

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 poses a major challenge to care homes, as SARS-CoV-2 is readily transmitted and causes disproportionately severe disease in older people. Here, 1167 residents from 337 care homes were identified from a dataset of 6600 COVID-19 cases from the East of England. Older age and being a care home resident were associated with increased mortality. SARS-CoV-2 genomes were available for 700 residents from 292 care homes. By integrating genomic and temporal data, 409 viral clusters within the 292 homes were identified, indicating two different patterns - outbreaks among care home residents and independent introductions with limited onward transmission. Approximately 70% of residents in the genomic analysis were admitted to hospital during the study, providing extensive opportunities for transmission between care homes and hospitals. Limiting viral transmission within care homes should be a key target for infection control to reduce COVID-19 mortality in this population.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , Nursing Homes , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/virology , Disease Outbreaks , England/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional , Infectious Disease Transmission, Professional-to-Patient , Male , Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide , Sequence Analysis , Time Factors
20.
Cell Rep Med ; 1(6): 100099, 2020 09 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-738567

ABSTRACT

Rapid COVID-19 diagnosis in the hospital is essential, although this is complicated by 30%-50% of nose/throat swabs being negative by SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT). Furthermore, the D614G spike mutant dominates the pandemic and it is unclear how serological tests designed to detect anti-spike antibodies perform against this variant. We assess the diagnostic accuracy of combined rapid antibody point of care (POC) and nucleic acid assays for suspected COVID-19 disease due to either wild-type or the D614G spike mutant SARS-CoV-2. The overall detection rate for COVID-19 is 79.2% (95% CI 57.8-92.9) by rapid NAAT alone. The combined point of care antibody test and rapid NAAT is not affected by D614G and results in very high sensitivity for COVID-19 diagnosis with very high specificity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , Point-of-Care Testing , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19 Testing/standards , Female , Humans , Immunoassay , Male , Middle Aged , Neutralization Tests , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Sensitivity and Specificity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
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