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1.
biorxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.05.20.492779

ABSTRACT

The second and third years of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic have been marked by the repeated emergence and replacement of variants with genetic and phenotypic distance from the ancestral strains, the most recent examples being Delta and Omicron. Here we describe a hamster contact exposure challenge model to assess protection conferred by vaccination or prior infection against re-infection. We found that 2-doses of self-amplifying RNA vaccine based on the ancestral spike ameliorated weight loss following Delta infection and decreased viral loads, but had minimal effect on Omicron/BA.1 infection. Prior infection with ancestral or Alpha variant was partially protective against Omicron/BA.1 infection, whereas all animals previously infected with Delta and exposed to Omicron became infected, although shed less virus. We further tested whether prior infection with Omicron/BA.1 protected from re-infection with Delta or Omicron/BA.2. Omicron/BA.1 was protective against Omicron/BA.2, but not Delta reinfection, again showing Delta and Omicron have a very large antigenic distance. Indeed, cross-neutralisation assays with human antisera from otherwise immunonaive individuals (unvaccinated and no known prior infection), confirmed a large antigenic distance between Delta and Omicron. Prior vaccination followed by Omicron or Delta breakthrough infection led to a higher degree of cross-reactivity to all tested variants. To conclude, cohorts whose only immune experience of COVID is Omicron/BA.1 infection may be particularly vulnerable to future circulation of Delta or Delta-like derivatives. In contrast, repeated exposure to antigenically distinct spikes, via infection and or vaccination drives a more cross-reactive immune response, both in hamsters and people.


Subject(s)
Weight Loss
2.
researchsquare; 2022.
Preprint in English | PREPRINT-RESEARCHSQUARE | ID: ppzbmed-10.21203.rs.3.rs-1380901.v1

ABSTRACT

Purpose We aim to investigate the associations of steroid and length of steroid use with outcomes in severe COVID-19.Methods Severe cases of COVID-19, defined by hypoxia at presentation, and admitted to a multi-site healthcare institution in London were analysed between 02-Sep-2020 and 27-May-2021. The associations between duration of steroid treatment (prescription-days) and outcomes were explored using Cox proportional-hazards models adjusting for confounders. Length of steroid treatment was analysed as both a continuous variable and categorised into < 3, 3–10, and > 10 days. The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality and secondary outcome was in-hospital mortality or intensive care unit (ICU) level-3 admission.Results 734 severe COVID-19 cases were included, with 137/734 (18.7%) treated with steroids for < 3 days, 497/734 (67.7%) for 3–10 days, and 100/734 (13.6%) for > 10 days. Cox modelling with continuous days showed increasing length of steroids decreased the hazard of in-hospital mortality by a factor of 0.98 [95% CI: 0.96-1.0] per additional day and in-hospital mortality or ICU admission by a factor of 0.91 [95% CI: 0.87–0.95] per additional day. Further, when taking 3–10 days steroid treatment group as the reference group, > 10 days steroid showed trends towards decreased hazards for death (HR 0.59 [95%CI: 0.30–1.14]) and was significantly protective for death/ICU outcome (HR 0.28 [95%CI: 0.11–0.68]).Conclusion The protective effect of steroid for severe COVID-19 reported in randomised clinical trials was replicated in this large real-world cohort. We found an association between longer steroid courses and lower risk of death or ICU admission that warrants further investigation.

3.
medrxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.02.10.22270799

ABSTRACT

Introduction Viral sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 has been used for outbreak investigation, but there is limited evidence supporting routine use for infection prevention and control (IPC) within hospital settings. Methods We conducted a prospective non-randomised trial of sequencing at 14 acute UK hospital trusts. Sites each had a 4-week baseline data-collection period, followed by intervention periods comprising 8 weeks of 'rapid' (<48h) and 4 weeks of 'longer-turnaround' (5-10 day) sequencing using a sequence reporting tool (SRT). Data were collected on all hospital onset COVID-19 infections (HOCIs; detected [≥]48h from admission). The impact of the sequencing intervention on IPC knowledge and actions, and on incidence of probable/definite hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) was evaluated. Results A total of 2170 HOCI cases were recorded from October 2020-April 2021, with sequence reports returned for 650/1320 (49.2%) during intervention phases. We did not detect a statistically significant change in weekly incidence of HAIs in longer-turnaround (IRR 1.60, 95%CI 0.85-3.01; P=0.14) or rapid (0.85, 0.48-1.50; P=0.54) intervention phases compared to baseline phase. However, IPC practice was changed in 7.8% and 7.4% of all HOCI cases in rapid and longer-turnaround phases, respectively, and 17.2% and 11.6% of cases where the report was returned. In a per-protocol sensitivity analysis there was an impact on IPC actions in 20.7% of HOCI cases when the SRT report was returned within 5 days. Conclusion While we did not demonstrate a direct impact of sequencing on the incidence of nosocomial transmission, our results suggest that sequencing can inform IPC response to HOCIs, particularly when returned within 5 days.

4.
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.12.01.21266982

ABSTRACT

Numerous studies have shown that a prior SARS-CoV-2 infection can greatly enhance the antibody response to COVID-19 vaccination, with this so called "hybrid immunity" leading to greater neutralization breadth against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. However, little is known about how breakthrough infection (BTI) in COVID-19 vaccinated individuals will impact the magnitude and breadth of the neutralizing antibody response. Here, we compared neutralizing antibody responses between unvaccinated and COVID-19 vaccinated individuals (including both AZD1222 and BNT162b2 vaccinees) who have been infected with the delta (B.1.617.2) variant. Rapid production of Spike-reactive IgG was observed in the vaccinated group providing evidence of effective vaccine priming. Overall, potent cross-neutralizing activity against current SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern was observed in the BTI group compared to the infection group. This study provides important insights into population immunity where transmission levels remain high.

5.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.11.09.467693

ABSTRACT

Variants of concern (VOCs) of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type-2 (SARS-CoV-2) threaten the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The alpha (B.1.1.7) variant appeared in the UK became dominant in Europe and North America in early 2021. The Spike glycoprotein of alpha has acquired a number mutations including the P681H mutation in the polybasic cleavage site that has been suggested to enhance Spike cleavage. Here, we show that the alpha Spike protein confers a level of resistance to the effects of interferon-{beta} (IFN{beta}) in lung epithelial cells. This correlates with resistance to restriction mediated by interferon-induced transmembrane protein-2 (IFITM2) and a pronounced infection enhancement by IFITM3. Furthermore, the P681H mutation is necessary for comparative resistance to IFN{beta} in a molecularly cloned SARS-CoV-2 encoding alpha Spike. Overall, we suggest that in addition to adaptive immune escape, mutations associated with VOCs also confer replication advantage through adaptation to resist innate immunity.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections
6.
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.06.24.21259107

ABSTRACT

Background Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) lineage B.1.1.7 has been associated with an increased rate of transmission and disease severity among subjects testing positive in the community. Its impact on hospitalised patients is less well documented. Methods We collected viral sequences and clinical data of patients admitted with SARS-CoV-2 and hospital-onset COVID-19 infections (HOCIs), sampled 16/11/2020 - 10/01/2021, from eight hospitals participating in the COG-UK-HOCI study. Associations between the variant and the outcomes of all-cause mortality and intensive therapy unit (ITU) admission were evaluated using mixed effects Cox models adjusted by age, sex, comorbidities, care home residence, pregnancy and ethnicity. Results Sequences were obtained from 2341 inpatients (HOCI cases = 786) and analysis of clinical outcomes was carried out in 2147 inpatients with all data available. The hazard ratio (HR) for mortality of B.1.1.7 compared to other lineages was 1.01 (95% CI 0.79-1.28, P=0.94) and for ITU admission was 1.01 (95% CI 0.75-1.37, P=0.96). Analysis of sex-specific effects of B.1.1.7 identified increased risk of mortality (HR 1.30, 95% CI 0.95-1.78) and ITU admission (HR 1.82, 95% CI 1.15-2.90) in females infected with the variant but not males (mortality HR 0.82, 95% CI 0.61-1.10; ITU HR 0.74, 95% CI 0.52-1.04). Conclusions In common with smaller studies of patients hospitalised with SARS-CoV-2 we did not find an overall increase in mortality or ITU admission associated with B.1.1.7 compared to other lineages. However, women with B.1.1.7 may be at an increased risk of admission to intensive care and at modestly increased risk of mortality.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections
7.
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.06.07.21258351

ABSTRACT

As SARS-CoV-2 variants continue to emerge globally, a major challenge for COVID-19 vaccination is the generation of a durable antibody response with cross-neutralizing activity against both current and newly emerging viral variants. Cross-neutralizing activity against major variants of concern (B.1.1.7, P.1 and B.1.351) has been observed following vaccination, albeit at a reduced potency, but whether vaccines based on the Spike glycoprotein of these viral variants will produce a superior cross-neutralizing antibody response has not been fully investigated. Here, we used sera from individuals infected in wave 1 in the UK to study the long-term cross-neutralization up to 10 months post onset of symptoms (POS), as well as sera from individuals infected with the B.1.1.7 variant to compare cross-neutralizing activity profiles. We show that neutralizing antibodies with cross-neutralizing activity can be detected from wave 1 up to 10 months POS. Although neutralization of B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 is lower, the difference in neutralization potency decreases at later timepoints suggesting continued antibody maturation and improved tolerance to Spike mutations. Interestingly, we found that B.1.1.7 infection also generates a cross-neutralizing antibody response, which, although still less potent against B.1.351, can neutralize parental wave 1 virus to a similar degree as B.1.1.7. These findings have implications for the optimization of vaccines that protect against newly emerging viral variants.

8.
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.04.13.21255342

ABSTRACT

IntroductionNosocomial transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been a significant cause of mortality in National Health Service (NHS) hospitals during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The aim of this study is to evaluate the impact of rapid whole genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2, supported by a novel probabilistic reporting methodology, to inform infection prevention and control (IPC) practice within NHS hospital settings. Methods and analysisCOG-UK HOCI (COG-UK Consortium Hospital-Onset COVID-19 Infections study) is a multicentre, prospective, interventional, superiority study. Eligible patients must be admitted to hospital with first confirmed SARS-CoV-2 PCR positive test result >48h from time of admission, where COVID-19 diagnosis was not suspected upon admission. The projected sample size for 14 participating sites covering all study phases over winter-spring 2020/2021 in the United Kingdom is 2,380 patients. The intervention is the return of a sequence report, within 48 hours in one phase (rapid local lab) and within 5-10 days in a second phase (mimicking central lab use), comparing the viral genome from an eligible study participant with others within and outside the hospital site. The primary outcomes are the incidence of Public Health England (PHE)/IPC-defined SARS-CoV-2 hospital-acquired infection during the baseline and two interventional phases, and proportion of hospital-onset cases with genomic evidence of transmission linkage following implementation of the intervention where such linkage was not suspected by initial IPC investigation. Secondary outcomes include incidence of hospital outbreaks, with and without sequencing data; actual and desirable changes to IPC actions; periods of healthcare worker (HCW) absence. A process evaluation using qualitative interviews with HCWs will be conducted alongside the study and analysis, underpinned by iterative programme theory of the sequence report. Health economic analysis will be conducted to determine cost-benefit of the intervention, and whether this leads to economic advantages within the NHS setting. Ethics and disseminationThe protocol has been approved by the National Research Ethics Service Committee (Cambridge South 20/EE/0118). This manuscript is based on version 5.0 of the protocol. The study findings will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications. Study Registration numberISRCTN50212645 Strengths and limitations of this studyO_LIThe COG-UK HOCI study harnesses the infrastructure of the UKs existing national COVID-19 genome sequencing platform to evaluate the specific benefit of sequencing to hospital infection control. C_LIO_LIThe evaluation is thought to be the first interventional study globally to assess effectiveness of genomic sequencing for infection control in an unbiased patient selection in secondary care settings. C_LIO_LIA range of institutional settings will participate, from specialist NHS-embedded or academic centres experienced in using pathogen genomics to district general hospitals. C_LIO_LIThe findings are likely to have wider applicability in future decisions to utilise genome sequencing for infection control of other pathogens (such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, norovirus, clostridium difficile and antimicrobial resistant pathogens) in secondary care settings. C_LIO_LIThe study has been awarded UK NIHR Urgent Public Health status, ensuring prioritised access to NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) research staff to recruit patients. C_LIO_LIThe study does not have a randomised controlled design due to the logistics of managing this against diverse standard practice. C_LI

9.
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.03.16.21253377

ABSTRACT

Introduction: A second wave of SARS-CoV-2 infection spread across the UK in 2020 linked with emergence of the more transmissible B.1.1.7 variant. The emergence of new variants, particularly during relaxation of social distancing policies and implementation of mass vaccination, highlights the need for real-time integration of detailed patient clinical data alongside pathogen genomic data. We linked clinical data with viral genome sequence data to compare patients admitted during the first and second waves of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Methods: Clinical, laboratory and demographic data from five electronic health record (EHR) systems was collected for all cases with a positive SARS-CoV-2 RNA test between March 13th 2020 and February 17th 2021. SARS-CoV-2 viral sequencing was performed using Oxford Nanopore Technology. Descriptive data are presented comparing cases between waves, and between cases of B.1.1.7 and non-B.1.1.7 variants. Results: There were 5810 SARS-CoV-2 RNA positive cases comprising inpatients (n=2341), healthcare workers (n=1549), outpatients (n=874), emergency department (ED) attenders not subsequently admitted (n=532), inter-hospital transfers (n=281) and nosocomial cases (n=233). There were two dominant waves of admissions starting from around March 13th and October 20th, both with a temporally aligned rise in nosocomial cases (n=96 in wave one, n=137 in wave two). 1470 SARS-CoV-2 isolates were successfully sequenced, including 216/838 (26%) admitted cases from wave one, 472/1503 (31%) admitted cases in wave two and 121/233 (52%) nosocomial cases. 400/472 (85%) of sequenced isolates from admitted cases in wave two were the B.1.1.7 variant. The first B.1.1.7 variant was identified on 15th November 2020 and increased rapidly to comprise almost all sequenced isolates in January 2021 (n=600/617, 97%). Females made up a larger proportion of admitted cases in wave two (47.2% vs 41.8%, p=0.012), and in those infected with the B.1.1.7 variant compared to non-B.1.1.7 variants (48.0% vs 41.8%, p=0.042). A diagnosis of frailty was less common in wave two (11.5% v 22.8%, p<0.001) and in the group infected with B.1.1.7 (14.5% v 22.4%, p=0.001). There was no difference in severity on admission between waves, as measured by hypoxia at admission (wave one: 64.3% vs wave two: 65.6%, p=0.658). However, a higher proportion of cases infected with the B.1.1.7 variant were hypoxic on admission compared to other variants (70.0% vs 62.5%, p=0.029). Conclusions: Automated EHR data extraction linked with SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence data provides valuable insight into the evolving characteristics of cases admitted to hospital with COVID-19. The proportion of cases with hypoxia on admission was greater in those infected with the B.1.1.7 variant, which supports evidence the B.1.1.7 variant is associated with more severe disease. The number of nosocomial cases was similar in both waves despite introduction of many infection control interventions before wave two, an observation requiring further investigation.


Subject(s)
Hypoxia
10.
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.02.27.21252427

ABSTRACT

Background: Rapid antigen lateral flow devices (LFDs) are set to become a cornerstone of SARS-CoV-2 mass community testing. However, their reduced sensitivity compared to PCR has raised questions of how well they identify infectious cases. Understanding their capabilities and limitations is therefore essential for successful implementation. To address this, we evaluated six commercial LFDs on the same collection of clinical samples and assessed their correlation with infectious virus culture and cycle threshold (Ct) values. Methods: A head-to-head comparison of specificities and sensitivities was performed on six commercial rapid antigen tests using combined nasal/oropharyngeal swabs, and their limits of detection determined using viral plaque forming units (PFU). Three of the LFDs were selected for a further study, correlating antigen test result with RT-PCR Ct values and positive viral culture in Vero-E6 cells. This included sequential swabs and matched serum samples obtained from four infected individuals with varying disease severities. Detection of antibodies was performed using an IgG/IgM Rapid Test Cassette, and neutralising antibodies by infectious virus assay. Finally, the sensitivities of selected rapid antigen LFTs were assessed in swabs with confirmed B.1.1.7 variant, currently the dominant genotype in the UK. Findings: Most of the rapid antigen LFDs showed a high specificity (>98%), and accurately detected 50 PFU/test (equivalent N1 Ct of 23.7 or RNA copy number of 3x106/ml). Sensitivities of the LFDs performed on clinical samples ranged from 65 to 89%. These sensitivities increased in most tests to over 90% for samples with Cts lower than 25. Positive virus culture was achieved for 57 out of 141 samples, with 80% of the positive cultures from swabs with Cts lower than 23. Importantly, sensitivity of the LFDs increased to over 95% when compared with the detection of infectious virus alone, irrespective of Ct. Longitudinal studies of PCR-positive samples showed that most of the tests identified all infectious samples as positive, but differences in test sensitivities can lead to missed cases in the absence of repeated testing. Finally, test performance was not impacted when re-assessed against swabs positive for the dominant UK variant B.1.1.7. Interpretation: In this comprehensive comparison of antigen LFD and virus infectivity, we demonstrate a clear relationship between Ct values, quantitative culture of infectious virus and antigen LFD positivity in clinical samples. Our data support regular testing of target groups using LFDs to supplement the current PCR testing capacity, to rapidly identify infected individuals in situations where they would otherwise go undetected.


Subject(s)
Neuromyelitis Optica
11.
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.11.26.20229989

ABSTRACT

Background. Clinical metagenomics (CMg) is being evaluated for translation from a research tool into routine diagnostic service, but its potential to significantly improve management of acutely unwell patients has not been demonstrated. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic provides impetus to determine that benefit given increased risk of secondary infection and nosocomial transmission by multi-drug resistant (MDR) pathogens linked with expansion of critical care capacity. Methods. Prospective evaluation of CMg using nanopore sequencing was performed on 43 respiratory samples over 14 weeks from a cohort of 274 intubated patients across seven COVID-19 intensive care units. Results. Bacteria or fungi were cultured from 200 (73%) patients, with a predominance of Klebsiella spp. (31%) and C. striatum (7%) amongst other common respiratory pathogens. An 8 hour CMg workflow was 93% sensitive and 81% specific for bacterial identification compared to culture, and reported presence or absence of {beta}-lactam resistance genes carried by Enterobacterales that would modify initial guideline-recommended antibiotics in every case. CMg was also 100% concordant with quantitative PCR for detecting Aspergillus fumigatus (4 positive and 39 negative samples). Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-typing using 24 hour sequence data identified an MDR-K. pneumoniae ST307 outbreak involving 4 patients and an MDR-C. striatum outbreak potentially involving 14 patients across three ICUs. Conclusion. CMg testing for ICU patients provides same-day pathogen detection and antibiotic resistance prediction that significantly improves initial treatment of nosocomial pneumonia and rapidly detects unsuspected outbreaks of MDR-pathogens.


Subject(s)
Klebsiella Infections , Cross Infection
12.
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.11.17.20232827

ABSTRACT

Many healthcare facilities report SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks but transmission analysis is complicated by the high prevalence of infection and limited viral genetic diversity. The contribution of different vectors to nosocomial infection or the effectiveness of interventions is therefore currently unclear. Detailed epidemiological and viral nanopore sequence data were analysed from 574 consecutive patients with a PCR positive SARS-CoV-2 test between March 13th and March 31st, when the pandemic first impacted on a large, multisite healthcare institution in London. During this time the first major preventative interventions were introduced, including progressive community social distancing (CSD) policies leading to mandatory national lockdown, exclusion of hospital visitors, and introduction of universal surgical facemask-use by healthcare-workers (HCW). Incidence of nosocomial cases, community SARS-CoV-2 cases and infection in a cohort of 228 HCWs followed the same dynamic course, decreasing shortly after introduction of CSD measures and prior to the main hospital-based interventions. We investigated clusters involving nosocomial cases based on overlapping ward-stays during the 14-day incubation period and SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence similarity. Our method placed 63 (79%) of 80 sequenced probable and definite nosocomial cases into 14 clusters containing a median of 4 patients (min 2, max 19) No genetic support was found for the majority of epidemiological clusters (31/44, 70%) and genomics revealed multiple contemporaneous outbreaks within single epidemiological clusters. We included a measure of hospital enrichment compared to community cases to increase confidence in our clusters, which were 1-14 fold enriched. Applying genomics, we could provide a robust estimate of the incubation period for nosocomial transmission, with a median lower bound and upper bound of 6 and 9 days respectively. Six (43%) clusters spanned multiple wards, with evidence of cryptic transmission, and community-onset cases could not be identified in more than half the clusters, particularly on the elective hospital site, implicating HCW as vectors of transmission. Taken together these findings suggest that CSD had the dominant impact on reducing nosocomial transmission by reducing HCW infection.


Subject(s)
Agricultural Workers' Diseases , Cross Infection
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