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1.
J Clin Invest ; 132(2)2022 01 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1633624

ABSTRACT

Memory B cells (MBCs) can provide a recall response able to supplement waning antibodies (Abs) with an affinity-matured response better able to neutralize variant viruses. We studied a cohort of elderly care home residents and younger staff (median age of 87 years and 56 years, respectively), who had survived COVID-19 outbreaks with only mild or asymptomatic infection. The cohort was selected because of its high proportion of individuals who had lost neutralizing antibodies (nAbs), thus allowing us to specifically investigate the reserve immunity from SARS-CoV-2-specific MBCs in this setting. Class-switched spike and receptor-binding domain (RBD) tetramer-binding MBCs persisted 5 months after mild or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, irrespective of age. The majority of spike- and RBD-specific MBCs had a classical phenotype, but we found that activated MBCs, indicating possible ongoing antigenic stimulation or inflammation, were expanded in the elderly group. Spike- and RBD-specific MBCs remained detectable in the majority of individuals who had lost nAbs, although at lower frequencies and with a reduced IgG/IgA isotype ratio. Functional spike-, S1 subunit of the spike protein- (S1-), and RBD-specific recall was also detectable by enzyme-linked immune absorbent spot (ELISPOT) assay in some individuals who had lost nAbs, but was significantly impaired in the elderly. Our findings demonstrate that a reserve of SARS-CoV-2-specific MBCs persists beyond the loss of nAbs but highlight the need for careful monitoring of functional defects in spike- and RBD-specific B cell immunity in the elderly.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Immunologic Memory , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Immunoglobulin Class Switching , Male , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
2.
2021.
Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-295014

ABSTRACT

Introduction SARS-CoV-2 serological studies have so far focused mainly on adults. Public Health England initiated prospective, longitudinal SARS-CoV-2 sero-surveillance in schools across England after the first national lockdown, which allowed comparison of child and adult responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection over time. Methods Staff and students had venepuncture for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in school during June, July and December 2020. Blood samples were tested for nucleocapsid (Abbott) and receptor binding domain (RBD) antibodies (in-house assay), and student samples were additionally assessed for live virus neutralising activity. Results In June 2020, 1,344 staff and 835 students were tested. Overall, 11.5% (95% CI: 9.4-13.9) and 11.3% (95% CI: 9.2-13.6;p=0.88) of students had nucleoprotein and RBD antibodies, compared to 15.6% (95% CI: 13.7-17.6) and 15.3% (95% CI: 13.4-17.3;p=0.83) of staff. Live virus neutralising activity was detected in 79.8% (n=71/89) of nucleocapsid and 85.5% (71/83) of RBD antibody positive children. RBD antibodies correlated more strongly with neutralising antibodies (r s =0.7527;p<0.0001) than nucleocapsid antibodies (r s =0.3698;p<0.0001). A median of 24.4 weeks later, 58.2% (107/184) participants had nucleocapsid antibody seroreversion, compared to 20.9% (33/158) for RBD (p<0.001). Similar seroreversion rates were observed between staff and students for nucleocapsid (p=0.26) and RBD-antibodies (p=0.43). Nucleocapsid and RBD antibody quantitative results were significantly lower in staff compared to students (p=0.028 and <0.0001 respectively) at baseline, but not at 24 weeks (p=0.16 and p=0.37, respectively). Conclusion RBD antibodies correlated more strongly with live virus neutralising activity. Most seropositive students and staff retained RBD antibodies for >6 months after SARS-CoV-2 infection.

3.
J Clin Invest ; 132(2)2022 01 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1541976

ABSTRACT

Memory B cells (MBCs) can provide a recall response able to supplement waning antibodies (Abs) with an affinity-matured response better able to neutralize variant viruses. We studied a cohort of elderly care home residents and younger staff (median age of 87 years and 56 years, respectively), who had survived COVID-19 outbreaks with only mild or asymptomatic infection. The cohort was selected because of its high proportion of individuals who had lost neutralizing antibodies (nAbs), thus allowing us to specifically investigate the reserve immunity from SARS-CoV-2-specific MBCs in this setting. Class-switched spike and receptor-binding domain (RBD) tetramer-binding MBCs persisted 5 months after mild or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, irrespective of age. The majority of spike- and RBD-specific MBCs had a classical phenotype, but we found that activated MBCs, indicating possible ongoing antigenic stimulation or inflammation, were expanded in the elderly group. Spike- and RBD-specific MBCs remained detectable in the majority of individuals who had lost nAbs, although at lower frequencies and with a reduced IgG/IgA isotype ratio. Functional spike-, S1 subunit of the spike protein- (S1-), and RBD-specific recall was also detectable by enzyme-linked immune absorbent spot (ELISPOT) assay in some individuals who had lost nAbs, but was significantly impaired in the elderly. Our findings demonstrate that a reserve of SARS-CoV-2-specific MBCs persists beyond the loss of nAbs but highlight the need for careful monitoring of functional defects in spike- and RBD-specific B cell immunity in the elderly.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Immunologic Memory , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Immunoglobulin Class Switching , Male , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
4.
Lancet Healthy Longev ; 2(12): e811-e819, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1541059

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Understanding the duration of protection and risk of reinfection after natural infection is crucial to planning COVID-19 vaccination for at-risk groups, including care home residents, particularly with the emergence of more transmissible variants. We report on the duration, neutralising activity, and protection against the alpha variant of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection in care home residents and staff infected more than 6 months previously. METHODS: We did this prospective observational cohort surveillance in 13 care homes in Greater London, England. All staff and residents were included. Staff and residents had regular nose and throat screening for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR according to national guidelines, with ad hoc testing of symptomatic individuals. From January, 2021, antigen lateral flow devices were also used, but positive tests still required RT-PCR confirmation. Staff members took the swab samples for themselves and the residents. The primary outcome was SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR positive primary infection or reinfection in previously infected individuals, as determined by previous serological testing and screening or diagnostic RT-PCR results. Poisson regression and Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate protective effectiveness of previous exposure. SARS-CoV-2 spike, nucleoprotein, and neutralising antibodies were assessed at multiple timepoints as part of the longitudinal follow-up. FINDINGS: Between April 10 and Aug 3, 2020, we recruited and tested 1625 individuals (933 staff and 692 residents). 248 participants were lost to follow-up (123 staff and 125 residents) and 1377 participants were included in the follow-up period to Jan 31, 2021 (810 staff and 567 residents). There were 23 reinfections (ten confirmed, eight probable, five possible) in 656 previously infected individuals (366 staff and 290 residents), compared with 165 primary infections in 721 susceptible individuals (444 staff and 277 residents). Those with confirmed reinfections had no or low neutralising antibody concentration before reinfection, with boosting of titres after reinfection. Kinetics of binding and neutralising antibodies were similar in older residents and younger staff. INTERPRETATION: SARS-CoV-2 reinfections were rare in older residents and younger staff. Protection from SARS-CoV-2 was sustained for longer than 9 months, including against the alpha variant. Reinfection was associated with no or low neutralising antibody before reinfection, but significant boosting occurred on reinfection. FUNDING: Public Health England.

5.
Nature ; 601(7891): 110-117, 2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1510600

ABSTRACT

Individuals with potential exposure to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) do not necessarily develop PCR or antibody positivity, suggesting that some individuals may clear subclinical infection before seroconversion. T cells can contribute to the rapid clearance of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronavirus infections1-3. Here we hypothesize that pre-existing memory T cell responses, with cross-protective potential against SARS-CoV-2 (refs. 4-11), would expand in vivo to support rapid viral control, aborting infection. We measured SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells, including those against the early transcribed replication-transcription complex (RTC)12,13, in intensively monitored healthcare workers (HCWs) who tested repeatedly negative according to PCR, antibody binding and neutralization assays (seronegative HCWs (SN-HCWs)). SN-HCWs had stronger, more multispecific memory T cells compared with a cohort of unexposed individuals from before the pandemic (prepandemic cohort), and these cells were more frequently directed against the RTC than the structural-protein-dominated responses observed after detectable infection (matched concurrent cohort). SN-HCWs with the strongest RTC-specific T cells had an increase in IFI27, a robust early innate signature of SARS-CoV-2 (ref. 14), suggesting abortive infection. RNA polymerase within RTC was the largest region of high sequence conservation across human seasonal coronaviruses (HCoV) and SARS-CoV-2 clades. RNA polymerase was preferentially targeted (among the regions tested) by T cells from prepandemic cohorts and SN-HCWs. RTC-epitope-specific T cells that cross-recognized HCoV variants were identified in SN-HCWs. Enriched pre-existing RNA-polymerase-specific T cells expanded in vivo to preferentially accumulate in the memory response after putative abortive compared to overt SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our data highlight RTC-specific T cells as targets for vaccines against endemic and emerging Coronaviridae.


Subject(s)
Asymptomatic Infections , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Seroconversion , Cell Proliferation , Cohort Studies , DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases/metabolism , Evolution, Molecular , Female , Health Personnel , Humans , Male , Membrane Proteins/immunology , Multienzyme Complexes/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/enzymology , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , Transcription, Genetic/immunology
6.
EClinicalMedicine ; 41: 101150, 2021 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1446584

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Prospective, longitudinal SARS-CoV-2 sero-surveillance in schools across England was initiated after the first national lockdown, allowing comparison of child and adult antibody responses over time. METHODS: Prospective active serological surveillance in 46 primary schools in England tested for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies during June, July and December 2020. Samples were tested for nucleocapsid (N) and receptor binding domain (RBD) antibodies, to estimate antibody persistence at least 6 months after infection, and for the correlation of N, RBD and live virus neutralising activity. FINDINGS: In June 2020, 1,344 staff and 835 students were tested. Overall, 11.5% (95%CI: 9.4-13.9) and 11.3% (95%CI: 9.2-13.6; p = 0.88) of students had nucleoprotein and RBD antibodies, compared to 15.6% (95%CI: 13.7-17.6) and 15.3% (95%CI: 13.4-17.3; p = 0.83) of staff. Live virus neutralising activity was detected in 79.8% (n = 71/89) of nucleocapsid and 85.5% (71/83) of RBD antibody positive children. RBD antibodies correlated more strongly with neutralising antibodies (rs=0.7527; p<0.0001) than nucleocapsid antibodies (rs=0.3698; p<0.0001). A median of 24.4 weeks later, 58.2% (107/184) participants had nucleocapsid antibody seroreversion, compared to 20.9% (33/158) for RBD (p<0.001). Similar seroreversion rates were observed between staff and students for nucleocapsid (p = 0.26) and RBD-antibodies (p = 0.43). Nucleocapsid and RBD antibody quantitative results were significantly lower in staff compared to students (p = 0.028 and <0.0001 respectively) at baseline, but not at 24 weeks (p = 0.16 and p = 0.37, respectively). INTERPRETATION: The immune response in children following SARS-CoV-2 infection was robust and sustained (>6 months) but further work is required to understand the extent to which this protects against reinfection.

7.
Lancet Reg Health Eur ; 3: 100038, 2021 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1192394

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Care homes have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We investigated the potential role of asymptomatic infection and silent transmission in London care homes that reported no cases of COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic. METHODS: Five care homes with no cases and two care homes reporting a single case of COVID-19 (non-outbreak homes) were investigated with nasal swabbing for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR and serology for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies five weeks later. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) was performed on RT-PCR positive samples. Serology results were compared with those of six care homes with recognised outbreaks. FINDINGS: Across seven non-outbreak homes, 718 (387 staff, 331 residents) individuals had a nasal swab and 651 (386 staff, 265 residents) had follow-up serology. Sixteen individuals (13 residents, 3 staff) in five care homes with no reported cases were RT-PCR positive (care home positivity rates, 0 to 7.6%) compared to 13 individuals (3.0 and 10.8% positivity) in two homes reporting a single case.Seropositivity across these seven homes varied between 10.7-56.5%, with four exceeding community seroprevalence in London (14.8%). Seropositivity rates for staff and residents correlated significantly (rs 0.84, [95% CI 0.51-0.95] p <0.001) across the 13 homes. WGS identified multiple introductions into some homes and silent transmission of a single lineage between staff and residents in one home. INTERPRETATION: We found high rates of asymptomatic infection and transmission even in care homes with no COVID-19 cases. The higher seropositivity rates compared to RT-PCR positivity highlights the true extent of the silent outbreak. FUNDING: PHE.

8.
Euro Surveill ; 26(5)2021 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1067625

ABSTRACT

Two London care homes experienced a second COVID-19 outbreak, with 29/209 (13.9%) SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR-positive cases (16/103 residents, 13/106 staff). In those with prior SARS-CoV-2 exposure, 1/88 (1.1%) individuals (antibody positive: 87; RT-PCR-positive: 1) became PCR-positive compared with 22/73 (30.1%) with confirmed seronegative status. After four months protection offered by prior infection against re-infection was 96.2% (95% confidence interval (CI): 72.7-99.5%) using risk ratios from comparison of proportions and 96.1% (95% CI: 78.8-99.3%) using a penalised logistic regression model.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/prevention & control , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Nursing Homes/statistics & numerical data , Reinfection/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19 Serological Testing , Female , Humans , London , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Whole Genome Sequencing
9.
EClinicalMedicine ; 28: 100597, 2020 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-912161

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: We investigated six London care homes experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak and found high rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection among residents and staff. Here we report follow-up investigations including antibody testing in the same care homes five weeks later. METHODS: Residents and staff in the initial investigation had a repeat nasal swab for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR and a blood test for SARS CoV-2 antibodies using ELISA based on SARS-CoV-2 native viral antigens derived from infected cells and virus neutralisation. FINDINGS: Of the 518 residents and staff in the initial investigation, 186/241 (77.2%) surviving residents and 208/254 (81.9%) staff underwent serological testing. Almost all SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR positive residents and staff were seropositive five weeks later, whether symptomatic (residents 35/35, 100%; staff, 22/22, 100%) or asymptomatic (residents 32/33, 97.0%; staff 21/22, 95.5%). Symptomatic but SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR negative residents and staff also had high seropositivity rates (residents 23/27, 85.2%; staff 18/21, 85.7%), as did asymptomatic RT-PCR negative individuals (residents 61/91, 67.0%; staff 95/143, 66.4%). Neutralising antibody was detected in 118/132 (89.4%) seropositive individuals and was not associated with age or symptoms. Ten residents (10/79 re-tested, 12.7%) remained RT-PCR positive but with higher RT-PCR cycle threshold values; 7/10 had serological testing and all were seropositive. New infections were detected in three residents and one staff. INTERPRETATION: RT-PCR provides a point prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection but significantly underestimates total exposure in outbreak settings. In care homes experiencing large COVID-19 outbreaks, most residents and staff had neutralising SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, which was not associated with age or symptoms. FUNDING: PHE.

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