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1.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-22276319

ABSTRACT

BackgroundThe management of Covid-19 outbreaks presented particular challenges in the prison setting. In this study we describe the results from the implementation of a serial mass testing approach in two adult prisons in northern England. The overall aim was to examine the epidemiology of Covid-19 outbreaks in prisons and help inform public health policy and practice during the pandemic. MethodsRepeat mass testing was offered to all eligible staff and residents in a womens (nresidents=239; nstaff=246) and a mens (nresidents=703; nstaff=340) prison in February and March 2021 at days 0, 7 and 28 after Covid-19 outbreaks were declared. Positive swab samples were sent for viral whole genome sequencing by COG-UK. FindingsParticipation in at least one testing round ranged from a low of 67% of staff in the mens prison to a high of 98% of residents in the womens prison. The largest outbreak, in the mens prison (261 cases in residents and 37 cases in staff), continued to see new cases identified at the last testing round on day 28. Test positivity in residents of both prisons was significantly lower (p<0.05) at day 28 than on preceding test days, but no significant difference was observed for staff (p>0.05). Epidemiological data in conjunction with sequencing information provided evidence for multiple introductions of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from the local community into the prisons, with transmission identified both within wings and between wings among residents and staff. Two distinct SARS-CoV-2 lineages were identified in the womens and mens prisons, B.1.177 and B.1.17, respectively. ConclusionsDuring a Covid-19 outbreak, timely implementation of a whole prison testing regime can serve to inform a targeted approach to infection prevention and control by identifying the true extent of disease transmission in all (including asymptomatic) individuals. Staff, in particular, should be tested regularly and testing uptake should be as high as possible to minimise the risk of infection incursion. Ensuring high testing uptake across all testing rounds remains a challenge.

2.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-22270799

ABSTRACT

IntroductionViral 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. MethodsWe 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. ResultsA 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. ConclusionWhile 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.

3.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-22269279

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 emerged in the UK in January 2020 and the Government introduced national lockdowns and regional tiers to control virus transmission. As the outbreak continued, new variants were detected. We analysed spatio-temporal dynamics of positive tests for COVID-19 on Teesside, UK throughout 2020, in relation to: socio-economic deprivation, weather, and Government interventions. We used a combination of disease mapping and mixed-effect modelling to investigate the dynamics of positive tests from two sampling strategies and the spread of particular variants of the virus as they emerged on Teesside. SARS-CoV-2 spread was related to the extent of social deprivation, lockdown interventions and weather. SARS-CoV-2 spread faster in some lineages than others, with positive tests related to levels of socio-economic deprivation. The interventions appeared to have different effects in the two waves of disease, and were associated with reduced numbers of records in the first wave, but having no effect during the second. ARTICLE SUMMARY LINERegional spread of SARS-CoV-2 is dependent on weather, socio-economic and mandatory lockdowns, but the effectiveness of the latter varies with virus lineage.

4.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21268323

ABSTRACT

The Office for National Statistics COVID-19 Infection Survey is a large household-based surveillance study based in the United Kingdom. Here, we report on the epidemiological and evolutionary dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 determined by analysing sequenced samples collected up until 13th November 2021. We observed four distinct sweeps or partial-sweeps, by lineages B.1.177, B.1.1.7/Alpha, B.1.617.2/Delta, and finally AY.4.2, a sublineage of B.1.617.2, with each sweeping lineage having a distinct growth advantage compared to their predecessors. Evolution was characterised by steady rates of evolution and increasing diversity within lineages, but with step increases in divergence associated with each sweeping major lineage, leading to a faster overall rate of evolution and fluctuating levels of diversity. These observations highlight the value of viral sequencing integrated into community surveillance studies to monitor the viral epidemiology and evolution of SARS-CoV-2, and potentially other pathogens, particularly as routine PCR testing is phased out or in settings where large-scale sequencing is not feasible.

5.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-297023

ABSTRACT

The recently reported Omicron (B.1.1.529) SARS-CoV-2 variant has a large number of mutations in the Spike (S) protein compared to previous variants. Here we evaluate the potential effect of Omicron S mutations on S protein dynamics and ACE2 binding as contributing factors to infectivity as well as propensity for immune escape. We define a consensus set of mutations from 77 sequences assigned as Omicron in GISAID as of November 25. We create structural models of the Omicron S protein in the open and closed states, as part of a complex with ACE2 and for each of 77 complexes of S bound to different antibodies with known structures. We have previously utilized Dynamical Signatures (DS) and the Vibrational Entropy Score (VDS) to evaluate the propensity of S variants to favour the open state. Here, we introduce the Binding Influence Score (BIS) to evaluate the influence of mutations on binding affinity based on the net gain or loss of interactions within the protein-protein interface. BIS shows excellent correlation with experimental data (Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.87) on individual mutations in the ACE2 interface for the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron variants combined. On the one hand, the DS of Omicron highly favours a more rigid open state and a more flexible closed state with the largest VDS of all variants to date, suggesting a large increase in the chances to interact with ACE2. On the other hand, the BIS shows that apart from N501Y, all other mutations in the interface reduce ACE2 binding affinity. VDS and BIS show opposing effects on the overall effectiveness of Omicron mutations to promote binding to ACE2 and therefore initiate infection. To evaluate the propensity for immune escape we calculated the net change of favourable and unfavourable interactions within each S-antibody interface. The net change of interactions shows a positive score (a net increase of favourable interactions and decrease of unfavourable ones) for 41 out of 77 antibodies, a nil score for 15 and a negative score for 21 antibodies. Therefore, in only 28% of S-antibody complexes (21/77) we predict some level of immune escape due to a weakening of the interactions with Omicron S. Considering that most antibody epitopes and the mutations are within the S-ACE2 interface our results suggest that mutations within the RBD of Omicron may give rise to only partial immune escape, which comes at the expense of reduced ACE2 binding affinity. However, this reduced ACE2 affinity appears to have been offset by increasing the occupancy of the open state of the Spike protein.

6.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-472622

ABSTRACT

The recently reported Omicron (B.1.1.529) SARS-CoV-2 variant has a large number of mutations in the Spike (S) protein compared to previous variants. Here we evaluate the potential effect of Omicron S mutations on S protein dynamics and ACE2 binding as contributing factors to infectivity as well as propensity for immune escape. We define a consensus set of mutations from 77 sequences assigned as Omicron in GISAID as of November 25. We create structural models of the Omicron S protein in the open and closed states, as part of a complex with ACE2 and for each of 77 complexes of S bound to different antibodies with known structures. We have previously utilized Dynamical Signatures (DS) and the Vibrational Entropy Score (VDS) to evaluate the propensity of S variants to favour the open state. Here, we introduce the Binding Influence Score (BIS) to evaluate the influence of mutations on binding affinity based on the net gain or loss of interactions within the protein-protein interface. BIS shows excellent correlation with experimental data (Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.87) on individual mutations in the ACE2 interface for the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron variants combined. On the one hand, the DS of Omicron highly favours a more rigid open state and a more flexible closed state with the largest VDS of all variants to date, suggesting a large increase in the chances to interact with ACE2. On the other hand, the BIS shows that apart from N501Y, all other mutations in the interface reduce ACE2 binding affinity. VDS and BIS show opposing effects on the overall effectiveness of Omicron mutations to promote binding to ACE2 and therefore initiate infection. To evaluate the propensity for immune escape we calculated the net change of favourable and unfavourable interactions within each S-antibody interface. The net change of interactions shows a positive score (a net increase of favourable interactions and decrease of unfavourable ones) for 41 out of 77 antibodies, a nil score for 15 and a negative score for 21 antibodies. Therefore, in only 28% of S-antibody complexes (21/77) we predict some level of immune escape due to a weakening of the interactions with Omicron S. Considering that most antibody epitopes and the mutations are within the S-ACE2 interface our results suggest that mutations within the RBD of Omicron may give rise to only partial immune escape, which comes at the expense of reduced ACE2 binding affinity. However, this reduced ACE2 affinity appears to have been offset by increasing the occupancy of the open state of the Spike protein.

7.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21264695

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 ARTIC amplicon protocol is the most widely used genome sequencing method for SARS-CoV-2, accounting for over 43% of publicly-available genome sequences. The protocol utilises 98 primers to amplify [~]400bp fragments of the SARS-CoV-2 genome covering all 30,000 bases. Understanding the analytical performance metrics of this protocol will improve how the data is used and interpreted. Different concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 control material were used to establish the limit of detection (LoD) of the ARTIC protocol. Results demonstrated the LoD was a minimum of 25-50 virus particles per mL. The sensitivity of ARTIC was comparable to the published sensitivities of commercial diagnostics assays and could therefore be used to confirm diagnostic testing results. A set of over 3,600 clinical samples from three UK regions were then evaluated to compare the protocols performance to clinical diagnostic assays (Roche Lightcycler 480 II, AusDiagnostics, Roche Cobas, Hologic Panther, Corman RdRp, Roche Flow, ABI QuantStudio 5, Seegene Nimbus, Qiagen Rotorgene, Abbott M2000, Thermo TaqPath, Xpert). We developed a Python tool, RonaLDO, to perform this validation (available under the GNU GPL3 open-source licence from https://github.com/quadram-institute-bioscience/ronaldo). Positives detected by diagnostic platforms were generally supported by sequencing data; platforms that used RT-qPCR were the best predictors of whether the sample would subsequently sequence successfully. To maximise success of sample sequencing for phylogenetic analysis, samples with Ct <31 should be chosen. For diagnostic tests that do not provide a quantifiable Ct value, adding a quantification step is recommended. The ARTIC SARS-CoV-2 sequencing protocol is highly sensitive, capable of detecting SARS-CoV-2 in samples with Cts in the high 30s. However, to routinely obtain whole genome coverage, samples with Ct <31 are recommended. Comparing different virus detection methods close to their LoD was challenging and significant discordance was observed.

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