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1.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-335264

ABSTRACT

South Africa’s fourth COVID-19 wave was driven predominantly by three lineages (BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3) of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant of concern. We have now identified two new lineages, BA.4 and BA.5. The spike proteins of BA.4 and BA.5 are identical, and comparable to BA.2 except for the addition of 69-70del, L452R, F486V and the wild type amino acid at Q493. The 69-70 deletion in spike allows these lineages to be identified by the proxy marker of S-gene target failure with the TaqPath™ COVID-19 qPCR assay. BA.4 and BA.5 have rapidly replaced BA.2, reaching more than 50% of sequenced cases in South Africa from the first week of April 2022 onwards. Using a multinomial logistic regression model, we estimate growth advantages for BA.4 and BA.5 of 0.08 (95% CI: 0.07 - 0.09) and 0.12 (95% CI: 0.09 - 0.15) per day respectively over BA.2 in South Africa.

4.
EuropePMC;
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-327610

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant largely escapes neutralizing antibodies elicited by vaccines or infection. However, whether Omicron triggers humoral responses that are cross-reactive to other variants of concern (VOCs) remains largely unknown. We use plasma from 20 unvaccinated and seven vaccinated individuals infected during the Omicron wave in South Africa to test binding, antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis (ADCP) and neutralization against VOCs. In unvaccinated individuals, Fc effector function and binding antibodies target Omicron and other VOCs at comparable levels. However, Omicron-triggered neutralization is not extensively cross-reactive to VOCs, with 20 to 43-fold reductions in titer. In contrast, vaccination followed by breakthrough Omicron infection improved cross-neutralization of VOCs, with titers exceeding 1:2,900. This has important implications for the vulnerability of unvaccinated Omicron-infected individuals to reinfection by circulating and emerging VOCs. Further, while Omicron-based immunogens may be adequate boosters, they are unlikely to be superior to existing vaccines for priming in SARS-CoV-2 naive individuals.

5.
Nature ; 603(7901): 488-492, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1661968

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) has multiple spike protein mutations1,2 that contribute to viral escape from antibody neutralization3-6 and reduce vaccine protection from infection7,8. The extent to which other components of the adaptive response such as T cells may still target Omicron and contribute to protection from severe outcomes is unknown. Here we assessed the ability of T cells to react to Omicron spike protein in participants who were vaccinated with Ad26.CoV2.S or BNT162b2, or unvaccinated convalescent COVID-19 patients (n = 70). Between 70% and 80% of the CD4+ and CD8+ T cell response to spike was maintained across study groups. Moreover, the magnitude of Omicron cross-reactive T cells was similar for Beta (B.1.351) and Delta (B.1.617.2) variants, despite Omicron harbouring considerably more mutations. In patients who were hospitalized with Omicron infections (n = 19), there were comparable T cell responses to ancestral spike, nucleocapsid and membrane proteins to those in patients hospitalized in previous waves dominated by the ancestral, Beta or Delta variants (n = 49). Thus, despite extensive mutations and reduced susceptibility to neutralizing antibodies of Omicron, the majority of T cell responses induced by vaccination or infection cross-recognize the variant. It remains to be determined whether well-preserved T cell immunity to Omicron contributes to protection from severe COVID-19 and is linked to early clinical observations from South Africa and elsewhere9-12.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Cross Reactions/immunology , Immunity, Cellular , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology , Adult , Aged , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Convalescence , Hospitalization , Humans , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/classification
6.
Nature ; 603(7902): 679-686, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1638766

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in southern Africa has been characterized by three distinct waves. The first was associated with a mix of SARS-CoV-2 lineages, while the second and third waves were driven by the Beta (B.1.351) and Delta (B.1.617.2) variants, respectively1-3. In November 2021, genomic surveillance teams in South Africa and Botswana detected a new SARS-CoV-2 variant associated with a rapid resurgence of infections in Gauteng province, South Africa. Within three days of the first genome being uploaded, it was designated a variant of concern (Omicron, B.1.1.529) by the World Health Organization and, within three weeks, had been identified in 87 countries. The Omicron variant is exceptional for carrying over 30 mutations in the spike glycoprotein, which are predicted to influence antibody neutralization and spike function4. Here we describe the genomic profile and early transmission dynamics of Omicron, highlighting the rapid spread in regions with high levels of population immunity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Immune Evasion , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Botswana/epidemiology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/transmission , Humans , Models, Molecular , Mutation , Phylogeny , Recombination, Genetic , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , South Africa/epidemiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
7.
2021.
Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-296139

ABSTRACT

The Beta variant of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in South Africa in late 2020 and rapidly became the dominant variant, causing over 95% of infections in the country during and after the second epidemic wave. Here we show rapid replacement of the Beta variant by the Delta variant, a highly transmissible variant of concern (VOC) that emerged in India and subsequently spread around the world. The Delta variant was imported to South Africa primarily from India, spread rapidly in large monophyletic clusters to all provinces, and became dominant within three months of introduction. This was associated with a resurgence in community transmission, leading to a third wave which was associated with a high number of deaths. We estimated a growth advantage for the Delta variant in South Africa of 0.089 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.084-0.093) per day which corresponds to a transmission advantage of 46% (95% CI 44-48) compared to the Beta variant. These data provide additional support for the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant relative to other VOC and highlight how dynamic shifts in the distribution of variants contribute to the ongoing public health threat.

8.
BMC Infect Dis ; 21(1): 539, 2021 Jun 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1261266

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In sub-Saharan Africa, acute respiratory infections (ARI), acute gastrointestinal infections (GI) and acute febrile disease of unknown cause (AFDUC) have a large disease burden, especially among children, while respective aetiologies often remain unresolved. The need for robust infectious disease surveillance to detect emerging pathogens along with common human pathogens has been highlighted by the ongoing novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The African Network for Improved Diagnostics, Epidemiology and Management of Common Infectious Agents (ANDEMIA) is a sentinel surveillance study on the aetiology and clinical characteristics of ARI, GI and AFDUC in sub-Saharan Africa. METHODS: ANDEMIA includes 12 urban and rural health care facilities in four African countries (Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of South Africa). It was piloted in 2018 in Côte d'Ivoire and the initial phase will run from 2019 to 2021. Case definitions for ARI, GI and AFDUC were established, as well as syndrome-specific sampling algorithms including the collection of blood, naso- and oropharyngeal swabs and stool. Samples are tested using comprehensive diagnostic protocols, ranging from classic bacteriology and antimicrobial resistance screening to multiplex real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) systems and High Throughput Sequencing. In March 2020, PCR testing for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and analysis of full genomic information was included in the study. Standardised questionnaires collect relevant clinical, demographic, socio-economic and behavioural data for epidemiologic analyses. Controls are enrolled over a 12-month period for a nested case-control study. Data will be assessed descriptively and aetiologies will be evaluated using a latent class analysis among cases. Among cases and controls, an integrated analytic approach using logistic regression and Bayesian estimation will be employed to improve the assessment of aetiology and associated risk factors. DISCUSSION: ANDEMIA aims to expand our understanding of ARI, GI and AFDUC aetiologies in sub-Saharan Africa using a comprehensive laboratory diagnostics strategy. It will foster early detection of emerging threats and continued monitoring of important common pathogens. The network collaboration will be strengthened and site diagnostic capacities will be reinforced to improve quality management and patient care.


Subject(s)
Communicable Diseases/diagnosis , Communicable Diseases/epidemiology , Mass Screening , Sentinel Surveillance , Bayes Theorem , Burkina Faso , Case-Control Studies , Cote d'Ivoire , Democratic Republic of the Congo , Fever/epidemiology , Fever/microbiology , Gastrointestinal Diseases/epidemiology , Gastrointestinal Diseases/microbiology , Humans , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction , Respiratory Tract Infections/epidemiology , South Africa
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