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1.
Clin Microbiol Infect ; 2022 Apr 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1872991

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: The COVID-19 pandemic increases healthcare worker (HCW) absenteeism. The bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine may provide non-specific protection against respiratory infections through enhancement of trained immunity. We investigated the impact of BCG vaccination on HCW absenteeism during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: HCWs exposed to COVID-19 patients in nine Dutch hospitals were randomized to BCG vaccine or placebo in a 1:1 ratio, and followed for one year using a mobile phone application. The primary endpoint was the self-reported number of days of unplanned absenteeism for any reason. Secondary endpoints included documented COVID-19, acute respiratory symptoms or fever. This was an investigator-funded study, registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT03987919). RESULTS: In March/April 2020, 1511 HCWs were enrolled. The median duration of follow-up was 357 person-days (interquartile range [IQR], 351 to 361). Unplanned absenteeism for any reason was observed in 2.8% of planned working days in the BCG group and 2.7% in the placebo group (adjusted relative risk 0.94; 95% credible interval, 0.78-1.15). Cumulative incidences of documented COVID-19 were 14.2% in the BCG and 15.2% in the placebo group (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 0.94; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.72-1.24). First episodes of self-reported acute respiratory symptoms or fever occurred in 490 (66.2%) and 443 (60.2%) participants, respectively (aHR: 1.13; 95% CI, 0.99-1.28). Thirty-one serious adverse events were reported (13 after BCG, 18 after placebo), none considered related to study medication. CONCLUSIONS: During the COVID-19 pandemic, BCG-vaccination of HCW exposed to COVID-19 patients did not reduce unplanned absenteeism nor documented COVID-19.

2.
Frontiers in immunology ; 13, 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1871222

ABSTRACT

Recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of COVID-19 patients of European ancestry have identified genetic loci significantly associated with disease severity. Here, we employed the detailed clinical, immunological and multi-omics dataset of the Human Functional Genomics Project (HFGP) to explore the physiological significance of the host genetic variants that influence susceptibility to severe COVID-19. A genomics investigation intersected with functional characterization of individuals with high genetic risk for severe COVID-19 susceptibility identified several major patterns: i. a large impact of genetically determined innate immune responses in COVID-19, with ii. increased susceptibility for severe disease in individuals with defective cytokine production;iii. genetic susceptibility related to ABO blood groups is probably mediated through the von Willebrand factor (VWF) and endothelial dysfunction. We further validated these identified associations at transcript and protein levels by using independent disease cohorts. These insights allow a physiological understanding of genetic susceptibility to severe COVID-19, and indicate pathways that could be targeted for prevention and therapy.

3.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2022 Mar 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1831053

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Older age is associated with increased severity and death from respiratory infections, including coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). The tuberculosis vaccine Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) may provide heterologous protection against non-tuberculous infections, and has been proposed as a potential preventive strategy against Covid-19. METHODS: In this multicenter, placebo-controlled trial, we randomly assigned elderly individuals (60 years or older, n=2014) to intracutaneous vaccination with BCG (n=1008) or placebo (n=1006). The primary endpoint was the cumulative incidence of respiratory tract infections that required medical intervention, during 12 months of follow-up. Secondary endpoints included the incidence of Covid-19, and the effect of BCG vaccination on the cellular and humoral immune responses. RESULTS: The cumulative incidence of respiratory tract infection requiring medical intervention was 0.029 in the BCG-vaccinated group and 0.024 in the control group (subdistribution hazard ratio [SHR], 1.26; 98.2% confidence interval [CI], 0.65 to 2.44). 51 and 48 individuals tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by PCR in the BCG and placebo group, respectively (SHR, 1.053; 95% CI, 0.71 to 1.56). No difference was observed in the frequency of adverse events. BCG vaccination was associated with enhanced cytokines responses after influenza, and partially also after SARS-CoV-2 stimulation. In patients diagnosed with Covid-19, antibody responses after infection were significantly stronger if the volunteers had previously received BCG. CONCLUSIONS: BCG-vaccination had no effect on the incidence of respiratory tract infections, including SARS-CoV-2 infection, in elderly volunteers. However, BCG vaccination improved cytokine responses stimulated by influenza and SARS-CoV-2, and induced stronger antibody titers after Covid-19 infection.

4.
Cell Rep ; 38(10): 110502, 2022 03 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1757194

ABSTRACT

Since the vast majority of species solely rely on innate immunity for host defense, it stands to reason that a critical evolutionary trait like immunological memory evolved in this primitive branch of our immune system. There is ample evidence that vaccines such as bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) induce protective innate immune memory responses (trained immunity) against heterologous pathogens. Here we show that while BCG vaccination significantly reduces morbidity and mortality against influenza A virus (IAV), it fails to provide protection against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). In contrast to IAV, SARS-CoV-2 infection leads to unique pulmonary vasculature damage facilitating viral dissemination to other organs, including the bone marrow (BM), a central site for BCG-mediated trained immunity. Finally, monocytes from BCG-vaccinated individuals mount an efficient cytokine response to IAV infection, while this response is minimal following SARS-CoV-2. Collectively, our data suggest that the protective capacity of BCG vaccination is contingent on viral pathogenesis and tissue tropism.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Influenza A virus , BCG Vaccine , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , Immunity, Innate , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccination
5.
PLoS Pathog ; 17(10): e1009928, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1484868

ABSTRACT

Non-specific protective effects of certain vaccines have been reported, and long-term boosting of innate immunity, termed trained immunity, has been proposed as one of the mechanisms mediating these effects. Several epidemiological studies suggested cross-protection between influenza vaccination and COVID-19. In a large academic Dutch hospital, we found that SARS-CoV-2 infection was less common among employees who had received a previous influenza vaccination: relative risk reductions of 37% and 49% were observed following influenza vaccination during the first and second COVID-19 waves, respectively. The quadrivalent inactivated influenza vaccine induced a trained immunity program that boosted innate immune responses against various viral stimuli and fine-tuned the anti-SARS-CoV-2 response, which may result in better protection against COVID-19. Influenza vaccination led to transcriptional reprogramming of monocytes and reduced systemic inflammation. These epidemiological and immunological data argue for potential benefits of influenza vaccination against COVID-19, and future randomized trials are warranted to test this possibility.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Cross Protection/physiology , Immunity, Innate/physiology , Influenza Vaccines/administration & dosage , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Cytokines/immunology , Cytokines/metabolism , Down-Regulation , Imidazoles/immunology , Incidence , Influenza Vaccines/immunology , Netherlands/epidemiology , Personnel, Hospital , Poly I-C/immunology , Proteomics , Risk Factors , Sequence Analysis, RNA
6.
Front Immunol ; 12: 720090, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1374235

ABSTRACT

Male sex and old age are risk factors for COVID-19 severity, but the underlying causes are unknown. A possible explanation for this might be the differences in immunological profiles in males and the elderly before the infection. With this in mind, we analyzed the abundance of circulating proteins and immune populations associated with severe COVID-19 in 2 healthy cohorts. Besides, given the seasonal profile of COVID-19, the seasonal response against SARS-CoV-2 could also be different in the elderly and males. Therefore, PBMCs of female, male, young, and old subjects in different seasons of the year were stimulated with heat-inactivated SARS-CoV-2 to investigate the season-dependent anti-SARS-CoV-2 immune response. We found that several T cell subsets, which are known to be depleted in severe COVID-19 patients, were intrinsically less abundant in men and older individuals. Plasma proteins increasing with disease severity, including HGF, IL-8, and MCP-1, were more abundant in the elderly and males. Upon in vitro SARS-CoV-2 stimulation, the elderly produced significantly more IL-1RA and had a dysregulated IFNγ response with lower production in the fall compared with young individuals. Our results suggest that the immune characteristics of severe COVID-19, described by a differential abundance of immune cells and circulating inflammatory proteins, are intrinsically present in healthy men and the elderly. This might explain the susceptibility of men and the elderly to SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Adolescent , Adult , Age Factors , Aged , Aging/immunology , Blood Proteins/immunology , COVID-19/physiopathology , Cohort Studies , Disease Susceptibility , Female , Humans , Immunity, Cellular , Immunologic Factors , Male , Middle Aged , Patient Acuity , Risk Assessment , Seasons , Sex Factors , T-Lymphocyte Subsets/immunology , Young Adult
7.
Cell Rep Med ; 1(5): 100073, 2020 08 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-694416

ABSTRACT

Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) induces long-term boosting of innate immunity, termed trained immunity, and decreases susceptibility to respiratory tract infections. BCG vaccination trials for reducing SARS-CoV-2 infection are underway, but concerns have been raised regarding the potential harm of strong innate immune responses. To investigate the safety of BCG vaccination, we retrospectively assessed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and related symptoms in three cohorts of healthy volunteers who either received BCG in the last 5 years or did not. BCG vaccination is not associated with increased incidence of symptoms during the COVID-19 outbreak in the Netherlands. Our data suggest that BCG vaccination might be associated with a decrease in the incidence of sickness during the COVID-19 pandemic (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 0.58, p < 0.05), and lower incidence of extreme fatigue. In conclusion, recent BCG vaccination is safe, and large randomized trials are needed to reveal if BCG reduces the incidence and/or severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Subject(s)
BCG Vaccine/administration & dosage , COVID-19/epidemiology , Vaccination/statistics & numerical data , Adult , Aged , BCG Vaccine/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Female , Humans , Immunologic Memory , Incidence , Male , Middle Aged , Netherlands/epidemiology , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Severity of Illness Index , Young Adult
9.
Trials ; 21(1): 481, 2020 Jun 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-548062

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: The objectives of these two separate trials are: (1) to reduce health care workers (HCWs) absenteeism; and (2) to reduce hospital admission among the elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic through BCG vaccination. TRIAL DESIGN: Two separate multi-centre placebo-controlled parallel group randomized trials PARTICIPANTS: (1) Health care personnel working in the hospital or ambulance service where they will take care of patients with the COVID-19 infection and (2) elderly ≥60 years. The HCW trial is being undertaken in 9 hospitals. The elderly trial is being undertaken in locations in the community in Nijmegen, Utrecht, and Veghel, in the Netherlands, using senior citizen organisations to facilitate recruitment. INTERVENTION AND COMPARATOR: For both trials the intervention group will be randomized to vaccination with 0.1 ml of the licensed BCG vaccine (Danish strain 1331, SSI, Denmark, equivalent to 0.075 mg attenuated M. bovis). The placebo group consists of 0.1 ml 0.9% NaCl, which is the same amount, and has the same colour and appearance as the suspended BCG vaccine. MAIN OUTCOMES: (1) Number of days of unplanned work absenteeism in HCWs for any reason which can be continuously measured on a bi-weekly basis, and (2) the cumulative incidence of hospital admission due to documented COVID-19. RANDOMISATION: Participants will be randomized to BCG vaccine or placebo (1;1) centrally using a computer- based system, stratified by study centre. BLINDING (MASKING): Subjects, investigators, physicians and outcome assessors are blinded for the intervention. Only the pharmacist assistant that prepares- and research personnel that administers- study medicines are unblinded. NUMBERS TO BE RANDOMISED (SAMPLE SIZE): (1) The sample size for the first trial is N=1500 HCWs randomised 1:1 to either BCG vaccine (n=750) and placebo (n=750) and (2) The sample size for the second trial is N=1600 elderly persons randomised to BCG vaccine (n=800) and the placebo group (n=800). TRIAL STATUS: HCW: version 4.0, 24-04-2020. Recruitment began 25-03-2020 and was completed on the 23-04-2020. Elderly: version 3.0, 04-04-2020. Recruitment began 16-04- 2020 and is ongoing. TRIAL REGISTRATION: The HCWs trial was registered 31-03-2020 at clinicaltrials.gov (identifier: NCT04328441) and registered 20-03-2020 at the Dutch Trial Registry (trialregister.nl, identifier Trial NL8477). The elderly trial was registered 22-04-2020 at the Dutch trial registry with number NL8547. FULL PROTOCOL: The full protocols will be attached as additional files, accessible from the Trials website (Additional file 1). In the interest in expediting dissemination of this material, the familiar formatting has been eliminated; this Letter serves as a summary of the key elements of the full protocol.


Subject(s)
Absenteeism , BCG Vaccine/immunology , Betacoronavirus , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Health Personnel , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic , Vaccination , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19 , Female , Hospitalization , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Multicenter Studies as Topic , SARS-CoV-2
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