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1.
J Hepatol ; 2022 Apr 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1796498

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Immune responses of solid organ transplant recipients to 2 doses of the BNT162b2 mRNA anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccine are impaired. The immunogenicity and safety of a third dose among liver transplant (LT) recipients are unknown. This work aimed to evaluate the immune response of LT recipients to a third dose of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine. METHODS: Consecutive LT recipients (n = 61) in follow-up at Sheba Medical Center were included. Receptor binding domain (RBD) IgG, neutralizing antibody (NA) titers, and T-cell levels before and 21-28 days after a third vaccine dose were determined. Adverse effects after the third dose were monitored. RESULTS: The median age of LT recipients was 65 years and 57.4% were male. The humoral immune response rate improved significantly, with 56% of patients showing a response before the third vaccine dose compared to 98% after the third dose. The cellular response in 12 evaluated patients improved significantly (p = 0.008). The geometric mean of anti-RBD IgG levels, NA levels, and T-cell count also increased significantly after the third dose. NA titers after the third dose negatively correlated with age (p = 0.03), mycophenolate mofetil treatment (p = 0.005), and combined immunosuppression as opposed to calcineurin inhibitor monotherapy (p = 0.001). After the third dose, adverse effects were reported by 37% of recipients and were mostly mild (local pain and fatigue). CONCLUSION: After a third BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine, the immune response improved significantly among LT recipients, without serious adverse effects. Further studies are needed to evaluate immune response durability and to determine the optimal number and schedule of booster vaccine doses. LAY SUMMARY: The Pfizer-Biotech BNT162b2SARS-CoV-2 vaccine induced significant immunity among liver transplant recipients after a third dose. The majority of the patients developed sufficient levels of both humoral and cellular immune responses. Factors that predict non-response were older age and immunosuppressive medications.

2.
Microbiol Spectr ; 10(2): e0217621, 2022 Apr 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1741582

ABSTRACT

In this report, we describe the development of a reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) assay, termed Alpha-Delta assay, which can detect all severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SC-2) variants and distinguish between the Alpha (B.1.1.7) and Delta (B.1.617.2) variants. The Alpha- and Delta-specific reactions in the assay target mutations that are strongly linked to the target variant. The Alpha reaction targets the D3L substitution in the N gene, and the Delta reaction targets the spike gene 156 to 158 mutations. Additionally, we describe a second Delta-specific assay that we use as a confirmatory test for the Alpha-Delta assay that targets the 119 to 120 deletion in the Orf8 gene. Both reactions have similar sensitivities of 15 to 25 copies per reaction, similar to the sensitivity of commercial SC-2 detection tests. The Alpha-Delta assay and the Orf8119del assay were successfully used to classify clinical samples that were subsequently analyzed by whole-genome sequencing. Lastly, the capability of the Alpha-Delta assay and Orf8119del assay to identify correctly the presence of Delta RNA in wastewater samples was demonstrated. This study provides a rapid, sensitive, and cost-effective tool for detecting and classifying two worldwide dominant SC-2 variants. It also highlights the importance of a timely diagnostic response to the emergence of new SC-2 variants with significant consequences on global health. IMPORTANCE The new assays described herein enable rapid, straightforward, and cost-effective detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SC-2) with immediate classification of the examined sample as Alpha, Delta, non-Alpha, or non-Delta variant. This is highly important for two main reasons: (i) it provides the scientific and medical community with a novel diagnostic tool to rapidly detect and classify any SC-2 sample of interest as Alpha, Delta, or none and can be applied to both clinical and environmental samples, and (ii) it demonstrates how to respond to the emergence of new variants of concern by developing a variant-specific assay. Such assays should improve our preparedness and adjust the diagnostic capacity to serve clinical, epidemiological, and research needs.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/diagnosis , Humans , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Whole Genome Sequencing
3.
Clin Microbiol Infect ; 28(6): 859-864, 2022 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1693758

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: Despite the success in developing COVID-19 vaccines, containment of the disease is obstructed worldwide by vaccine production bottlenecks, logistics hurdles, vaccine refusal, transmission through unvaccinated children, and the appearance of new viral variants. This underscores the need for effective strategies for identifying carriers/patients, which was the main aim of this study. METHODS: We present a bubble-based PCR testing approach using swab-pooling into lysis buffer. A bubble is a cluster of people who can be periodically tested for SARS-CoV-2 by swab-pooling. A positive test of a pool mandates quarantining each of its members, who are then individually tested while in isolation to identify the carrier(s) for further epidemiological contact tracing. RESULTS: We tested an overall sample of 25 831 individuals, divided into 1273 bubbles, with an average size of 20.3 ± 7.7 swabs/test tube, obtaining for all pools (≤37 swabs/pool) a specificity of 97.5% (lower bound 96.6%) and a sensitivity of 86.3% (lower bound 78.2%) and a post hoc analyzed sensitivity of 94.6% (lower bound 86.7%) and a specificity of 97.2% (lower bound 96.2%) in pools with ≤25 swabs, relative to individual testing. DISCUSSION: This approach offers a significant scale-up in sampling and testing throughput and savings in testing cost, without reducing sensitivity or affecting the standard PCR testing laboratory routine. It can be used in school classes, airplanes, hospitals, military units, and workplaces, and may be applicable to future pandemics.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19 Testing , COVID-19 Vaccines , Child , Humans , Pandemics , RNA, Viral , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Sensitivity and Specificity , Specimen Handling
4.
O'Toole, Áine, Hill, Verity, Pybus, Oliver, Watts, Alexander, Bogoch, Issac, Khan, Kamran, Messina, Jane, Tegally, Houriiyah, Lessells, Richard, Giandhari, Jennifer, Pillay, Sureshnee, Tumedi, Kefentse Arnold, Nyepetsi, Gape, Kebabonye, Malebogo, Matsheka, Maitshwarelo, Mine, Madisa, Tokajian, Sima, Hassan, Hamad, Salloum, Tamara, Merhi, Georgi, Koweyes, Jad, Geoghegan, Jemma, de Ligt, Joep, Ren, Xiaoyun, Storey, Matthew, Freed, Nikki, Pattabiraman, Chitra, Prasad, Pramada, Desai, Anita, Vasanthapuram, Ravi, Schulz, Thomas, Steinbrück, Lars, Stadler, Tanja, Parisi, Antonio, Bianco, Angelica, García de Viedma, Darío, Buenestado-Serrano, Sergio, Borges, Vítor, Isidro, Joana, Duarte, Sílvia, Gomes, João Paulo, Zuckerman, Neta, Mandelboim, Michal, Mor, Orna, Seemann, Torsten, Arnott, Alicia, Draper, Jenny, Gall, Mailie, Rawlinson, William, Deveson, Ira, Schlebusch, Sanmarié, McMahon, Jamie, Leong, Lex, Lim, Chuan Kok, Chironna, Maria, Loconsole, Daniela, Bal, Antonin, Josset, Laurence, Holmes, Edward, St. George, Kirsten, Lasek-Nesselquist, Erica, Sikkema, Reina, Oude Munnink, Bas, Koopmans, Marion, Brytting, Mia, Sudha rani, V.; Pavani, S.; Smura, Teemu, Heim, Albert, Kurkela, Satu, Umair, Massab, Salman, Muhammad, Bartolini, Barbara, Rueca, Martina, Drosten, Christian, Wolff, Thorsten, Silander, Olin, Eggink, Dirk, Reusken, Chantal, Vennema, Harry, Park, Aekyung, Carrington, Christine, Sahadeo, Nikita, Carr, Michael, Gonzalez, Gabo, de Oliveira, Tulio, Faria, Nuno, Rambaut, Andrew, Kraemer, Moritz, The, Covid-Genomics U. K. consortium, Network for Genomic Surveillance in South, Africa, Brazil, U. K. Cadde Genomic Network, Swiss Viollier Sequencing, Consortium, Diego, Search Alliance San, National Virus Reference, Laboratory, Seq, Covid Spain, Danish Covid-19 Genome, Consortium, Communicable Diseases Genomic, Network, Dutch National, Sars-CoV-surveillance program, Division of Emerging Infectious, Diseases.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-318194

ABSTRACT

Late in 2020, two genetically-distinct clusters of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) with mutations of biological concern were reported, one in the United Kingdom and one in South Africa. Using a combination of data from routine surveillance, genomic sequencing and international travel we track the international dispersal of lineages B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 (variant 501Y-V2). We account for potential biases in genomic surveillance efforts by including passenger volumes from location of where the lineage was first reported, London and South Africa respectively. Using the software tool grinch (global report investigating novel coronavirus haplotypes), we track the international spread of lineages of concern with automated daily reports, Further, we have built a custom tracking website (cov-lineages.org/global_report.html) which hosts this daily report and will continue to include novel SARS-CoV-2 lineages of concern as they are detected.

5.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-315142

ABSTRACT

Background: The immunogenicity and safety of the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine in people living with HIV-1 (PLWH) are unknown. We thus aimed to assess the immunogenicity and safety of this vaccine in PLWH.Methods: In this prospective open study, we enrolled 143 PLWH, aged ³18 years, who attended our clinic. Patients who had recovered from COVID-19 were excluded. SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD) IgG and neutralizing antibodies were measured and compared to those in a cohort of vaccinated health care workers (HCWs). Adverse events, viral load and CD4 cell counts were monitored.Findings: At a median of 15 (IQR 14-19) days following the first dose of the BNT162b2 vaccine and 18 (IQR 14-21) days after the second dose, anti-RBD IgG was positive in 66/128 (51%) and 139/141 (98%) PLWH, respectively. Among the HCWs, 235/399 (59%) and 269/272 (99%) developed anti-RBD IgG at a median of 14 (IQR 14-14) and 26 (IQR 24-27) days after first and second doses, respectively. Following the second dose, immune sera neutralized SARS-CoV-2 pseudo-virus (psSARS-2) in 97% and 98% of PLWH and HCW, respectively. Vaccination was associated with adverse events in 60% of PLWH, mainly pain at the injection site, fatigue, and headache. AIDS-related adverse events were not reported. HIV viral load increased in 3/143 (2%) patients from < 40 copies/mL to ≤ 100 copies/mL. CD4+ T cell count decreased from a geometric mean of 700 (95% CI 648–757) cells/mm3 to 633.8 (95% CI 588–683) cells/mm 3 (P<0.01). Interpretation: This study on BNT162b2 vaccination in PLWH revealed a high antibody response without detrimental effect on viral load. A small decline in CD4 cell count was noted, but it was not accompanied by clinical deterioration. This study thus provides support for the immunization of PLWH against COVID-19 with the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 vaccine.Funding Statement: None.Declaration of Interests: None.Ethics Approval Statement: Written informed consent was obtained from all participants and the study protocol and informed consent were approved by the Institutional review board of Sheba Medical Center.

6.
Epidemiol Infect ; 150: e18, 2021 09 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1665657

ABSTRACT

Nosocomial severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) outbreaks among health care workers have been scarcely reported so far. This report presents the results of an epidemiologic and molecular investigation of a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak among laundromat facility workers in a large tertiary centre in Israel. Following the first three reported cases of SARS-CoV-2 among laundromat workers, all 49 laundromat personnel were screened by qRT-PCR tests using naso- and oropharingeal swabs. Epidemiologic investigations included questionnaires, interviews and observations of the laundromat facility. Eleven viral RNA samples were then sequenced, and a phylogenetic analysis was performed using MEGAX.The integrated investigation defined three genetic clusters and helped identify the index cases and the assumed routes of transmission. It was then deduced that shared commute and public showers played a role in SARS-CoV-2 transmission in this outbreak, in addition to improper PPE use and social gatherings (such as social eating and drinking). In this study, we present an integrated epidemiologic and molecular investigation may help detect the routes of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, emphasising such routes that are less frequently discussed. Our work reinforces the notion that person-to-person transmission is more likely to cause infections than environmental contamination (e.g. from handling dirty laundry).


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Disease Outbreaks , Laundry Service, Hospital , SARS-CoV-2 , Adult , COVID-19/transmission , Cohort Studies , Contact Tracing , Cross Infection/epidemiology , Cross Infection/transmission , Cross Infection/virology , Disease Outbreaks/statistics & numerical data , Female , Humans , Israel/epidemiology , Male , Middle Aged , Phylogeny , RNA, Viral/chemistry , RNA, Viral/isolation & purification , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
7.
Frontiers in medicine ; 8, 2021.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1651889

ABSTRACT

The changing nature of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic poses unprecedented challenges to the world's health systems. Emerging spike gene variants jeopardize global efforts to produce immunity and reduce morbidity and mortality. These challenges require effective real-time genomic surveillance solutions that the medical community can quickly adopt. The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein mediates host receptor recognition and entry into the cell and is susceptible to generation of variants with increased transmissibility and pathogenicity. The spike protein is the primary target of neutralizing antibodies in COVID-19 patients and the most common antigen for induction of effective vaccine immunity. Tight monitoring of spike protein gene variants is key to mitigating COVID-19 spread and generation of vaccine escape mutants. Currently, SARS-CoV-2 sequencing methods are labor intensive and expensive. When sequence demands are high sequencing resources are quickly exhausted. Consequently, most SARS-CoV-2 strains are sequenced in only a few developed countries and rarely in developing regions. This poses the risk that undetected, dangerous variants will emerge. In this work, we present HiSpike, a method for high-throughput cost effective targeted next generation sequencing of the spike gene. This simple three-step method can be completed in < 30 h, can sequence 10-fold more samples compared to conventional methods and at a fraction of their cost. HiSpike has been validated in Israel, and has identified multiple spike variants from real-time field samples including Alpha, Beta, Delta and the emerging Omicron variants. HiSpike provides affordable sequencing options to help laboratories conserve resources for widespread high-throughput, near real-time monitoring of spike gene variants.

8.
Euro Surveill ; 26(45)2021 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1581442

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Lambda (Pango lineage designation C.37) variant of interest, initially identified in Peru, has spread to additional countries. First detected in Israel in April 2021 following importations from Argentina and several European countries, the Lambda variant infected 18 individuals belonging to two main transmission chains without further spread. Micro-neutralisation assays following Comirnaty (BNT162b2 mRNA, BioNTech-Pfizer) vaccination demonstrated a significant 1.6-fold reduction in neutralising titres compared with the wild type virus, suggesting increased susceptibility of vaccinated individuals to infection.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , Israel/epidemiology , Vaccination
9.
PLoS One ; 16(3): e0243265, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1576038

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory disease coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which causes corona virus disease (COVID-19) was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019 and has since led to a global pandemic. Importations of SARS-CoV-2 to Israel in late February from multiple countries initiated a rapid outbreak across the country. In this study, SARS-CoV-2 whole genomes were sequenced from 59 imported samples with a recorded country of importation and 101 early circulating samples in February to mid-March 2020 and analyzed to infer clades and mutational patterns with additional sequences identified Israel available in public databases. Recorded importations in February to mid-March, mostly from Europe, led to multiple transmissions in all districts in Israel. Although all SARS-CoV-2 defined clades were imported, clade 20C became the dominating clade in the circulating samples. Identification of novel, frequently altered mutated positions correlating with clade-defining positions provide data for surveillance of this evolving pandemic and spread of specific clades of this virus. SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread and mutate in Israel and across the globe. With economy and travel resuming, surveillance of clades and accumulating mutations is crucial for understanding its evolution and spread patterns and may aid in decision making concerning public health issues.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/pathology , Genetic Variation , Genome, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing , Humans , Israel/epidemiology , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification
10.
Liver Transpl ; 28(2): 215-223, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1568241

ABSTRACT

The BNT162b2 messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been shown to be safe and effective in immunocompetent patients. The safety and efficacy of this vaccine in liver transplantation (LT) recipients is still under evaluation. The objective of this study was to assess the safety and efficacy of the BNT162b2 vaccine among transplant recipients. The immune responses of 76 LT recipients receiving 2 doses of the vaccine were compared with those of 174 age-matched immunocompetent controls. Postvaccination immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies against the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 and neutralizing antibodies (NA) to the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine were determined at least 14 days after the second dose of the vaccine. IgG antibody titers ≥1.1 were defined as positive antibodies. Adverse effects were monitored during the study period. Following administration of the second dose, transplant recipients showed reduced immune responses compared with controls (72% versus 94.2%; P < 0.001). At a median time of 38 days after the second vaccination, the geometric mean of RBD IgG and NA titers were 2.1 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.6-2.6) and 150 (95% CI, 96-234) among transplant recipients and 4.6 (95% CI, 4.1-5.1) and 429 (95% CI, 350-528) in the control group, respectively (P < 0.001). Antibody responses were lower in transplant recipients who were receiving combined immunosuppression therapy and in those with impaired renal function. Among the LT recipients with negative antibody responses, 1 became infected with SARS-CoV-2, but no recipients with positive antibody responses became infected. Overall, most (n = 39 [51%]) adverse effects self-reported by transplant recipients were mild and occurred more often in women than in men. Compared with patients who were immunocompetent, LT recipients had lower immune responses. The durability of immune responses to the BNT162b2 vaccine among LT recipients requires further investigation.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Liver Transplantation , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19 Vaccines , Female , Humans , Liver Transplantation/adverse effects , Male , RNA, Messenger/genetics , SARS-CoV-2 , Transplant Recipients , Vaccines, Synthetic
11.
EClinicalMedicine ; 42: 101190, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1540602

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: SARS-CoV-2 variant Beta (B.1.351) was designated as a Variant of Concern (VoC) after becoming the dominant strain in South Africa and spreading internationally. BNT162b2 showed lower levels of neutralizing antibodies against Beta than against other strains raising concerns about effectiveness of vaccines against infections caused by Beta. We estimated BNT162b2 vaccine effectiveness (VE) against Beta infections in Israel, a country with high vaccine uptake. METHODS: The Ministry of Health (MoH) identified Beta cases through mandatory reporting of SARS-CoV-2 cases and whole genome sequencing (WGS) of specimens from vaccination-breakthrough infections, reinfections, arriving international travelers, and a selection of other infected persons. A cohort analysis was conducted of exposure events of contacts of primary Beta cases. WGS was conducted on available PCR-positive specimens collected from contacts. VE estimates with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) against confirmed and probable Beta infections were determined by comparing infection risk between unvaccinated and fully-vaccinated (≥7 days after the second dose) contacts, and between unvaccinated and partially-vaccinated (<7 days after the second dose) contacts. FINDINGS: MoH identified 310 Beta cases through Jun 27, 2021. During the study period (Dec 11, 2020 - Mar 25, 2021), 164 non-institutionalized primary Beta cases, with 552 contacts aged ≥16 years, were identified. 343/552 (62%) contacts were interviewed and tested. 71/343 (21%) contacts were PCR-positive. WGS was performed on 7/71 (10%) PCR-positive specimens; all were Beta. Among SARS-CoV-2-infected contacts, 48/71 (68%) were symptomatic, 10/71 (14%) hospitalized, and 2/71 (3%) died. Fully-vaccinated VE against confirmed or probable Beta infections was 72% (95% CI -5 - 97%; p=0·04) and against symptomatic confirmed or probable Beta infections was 100% (95% CI 19 - 100%; p=0·01). There was no evidence of protection in partially-vaccinated contacts. INTERPRETATION: In a prospective observational study, two doses of BNT162b2 were effective against confirmed and probable Beta infections. Through the end of June 2021, introductions of Beta did not interrupt control of the pandemic in Israel. FUNDING: Israel Ministry of Health and Pfizer.

12.
J Clin Epidemiol ; 142: 38-44, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1487821

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effectiveness of the Pfizer BNT162b2 vaccine against the SARS-Cov-2 Beta variant. STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: Israel's mass vaccination program, using two doses of the Pfizer BNT162b2 vaccine, successfully curtailed the Alpha variant outbreak during winter 2020-2021, However, the virus may mutate and partially evade the immune system. To monitor this, sequencing of selected positive swab samples of interest was initiated. Comparing vaccinated with unvaccinated PCR positive persons, we estimated the odds ratio for a vaccinated case to have the Beta vs. the Alpha variant, using logistic regression, controlling for important confounders. RESULTS: There were 19 cases of Beta variant (3.2%) among those vaccinated more than 14 days before the positive sample and 79 (3.4%) among the unvaccinated. The estimated odds ratio was 1.26 (95% CI: 0.65-2.46). Assuming the effectiveness against the Alpha variant to be 95%, the estimated effectiveness against the Beta variant was 94% (95% CI: 88%-98%). CONCLUSION: Despite concerns over the Beta variant, the BNT162b2 vaccine seemed to provide substantial immunity against both the Beta and the Alpha variants. From 14 days following the second vaccine dose, the effectiveness of BNT162b2 vaccine was at most marginally affected by the Beta variant.


Subject(s)
/administration & dosage , COVID-19/virology , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/classification , Sequence Analysis, RNA/methods , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/prevention & control , Female , High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing , Humans , Israel , Logistic Models , Male , Mass Vaccination , Microbial Viability/drug effects , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , Young Adult
13.
Microbiol Spectr ; 9(2): e0050621, 2021 10 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1455679

ABSTRACT

Emerging SARS-CoV-2 (SC-2) variants with increased infectivity and vaccine resistance are of major concern. Rapid identification of such variants is important for the public health decision making and to provide valuable data for epidemiological and policy decision making. We developed a multiplex reverse transcriptase quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) assay that can specifically identify and differentiate between the emerging B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 SC-2 variants. In a single assay, we combined four reactions-one that detects SC-2 RNA independently of the strain, one that detects the D3L mutation, which is specific to variant B.1.1.7, one that detects the 242 to 244 deletion, which is specific to variant B.1.351, and the fourth reaction, which identifies the human RNAseP gene, serving as an endogenous control for RNA extraction integrity. We show that the strain-specific reactions target mutations that are strongly associated with the target variants and not with other major known variants. The assay's specificity was tested against a panel of respiratory pathogens (n = 16), showing high specificity toward SC-2 RNA. The assay's sensitivity was assessed using both in vitro transcribed RNA and clinical samples and was determined to be between 20 and 40 viral RNA copies per reaction. The assay performance was corroborated with Sanger and whole-genome sequencing, showing complete agreement with the sequencing results. The new assay is currently implemented in the routine diagnostic work at the Central Virology Laboratory, and may be used in other laboratories to facilitate the diagnosis of these major worldwide-circulating SC-2 variants. IMPORTANCE This study describes the design and utilization of a multiplex reverse transcriptase quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) to identify SARS-COV-2 (SC2) RNA in general and, specifically, to detect whether it is of lineage B.1.1.7 or B.1.351. Implementation of this method in diagnostic and research laboratories worldwide may help the efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The method can be easily scaled up and be used in high-throughput laboratories, as well as small ones. In addition to immediate help in diagnostic efforts, this method may also help in epidemiological studies focused on the spread of emerging SC-2 lineages.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/diagnosis , High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing/methods , High-Throughput Screening Assays/methods , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , Israel/epidemiology , RNA, Viral/genetics , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Sensitivity and Specificity , Whole Genome Sequencing
14.
Euro Surveill ; 26(39)2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1448679

ABSTRACT

A nosocomial outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant infected 42 patients, staff and family members; 39 were fully vaccinated. The attack rate was 10.6% (16/151) among exposed staff and reached 23.7% (23/97) among exposed patients in a highly vaccinated population, 16-26 weeks after vaccination (median: 25 weeks). All cases were linked and traced to one patient. Several transmissions occurred between individuals wearing face masks. Fourteen of 23 patients became severely sick or died, raising a question about possible waning immunity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Cross Infection , Cross Infection/epidemiology , Disease Outbreaks , Humans , Israel , SARS-CoV-2
15.
Clin Microbiol Infect ; 27(12): 1851-1855, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1370463

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: The immunogenicity and safety of the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine in people living with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (PLWH) are unknown. We aimed to assess the immunogenicity and safety of this vaccine in PLWH. METHODS: In this prospective open study, we enrolled 143 PLWH, aged ≥18 years, who attended our clinic and 261 immunocompetent health-care workers (HCWs). Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) receptor binding domain (RBD) IgG and neutralizing antibodies were measured. Adverse events, viral load and CD4 cell counts were monitored. RESULTS: At a median of 18 days (interquartile range 14-21 days) after the second dose, anti-RBD-IgG was positive in 139/141 (98%) PLWH. Among HCWs, 258/261 (98.9%) developed anti-RBD-IgG at a median of 26 days (interquartile range 24-27 days) after the second dose. Following the second dose, immune sera neutralized SARS-CoV-2 pseudo-virus in 97% and 98% of PLWH and HCWs, respectively. Adverse events were reported in 60% of PLWH, mainly pain at the injection site, fatigue and headache. AIDS-related adverse events were not reported. Human immunodeficiency virus load increased in 3/143 (2%) patients from <40 copies/mL to ≤100 copies/mL. CD4+ T-cell count decreased from a geometric mean of 700 cells/µL (95% CI 648-757 cells/µL) to 633.8 cells/µL (95% CI 588-683 cells/µL) (p < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine appears immunogenic and safe in PLWH who are on antiretroviral therapy with unsuppressed CD4 count and suppressed viral load.


Subject(s)
/immunology , COVID-19 , HIV Infections , Adult , Anti-HIV Agents/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , Antibodies, Viral/blood , CD4 Lymphocyte Count , COVID-19/prevention & control , HIV Infections/complications , HIV Infections/drug therapy , HIV-1 , Humans , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Prospective Studies
17.
Vaccines (Basel) ; 9(8)2021 Aug 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1367936

ABSTRACT

Emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants may threaten global vaccination efforts and the awaited reduction in outbreak burden. In this study, we report a novel variant carrying the L452R mutation that emerged from a local B.1.362 lineage, B.1.362+L452R. The L452R mutation is associated with the Delta and Epsilon variants and was shown to cause increased infection and reduction in neutralization in pseudoviruses. Indeed, the B.1.362+L452R variant demonstrated a X4-fold reduction in neutralization capacity of sera from BNT162b2-vaccinated individuals compared to a wild-type strain. The variant infected 270 individuals in Israel between December 2020 and March 2021, until diminishing due to the gain in dominance of the Alpha variant in February 2021. This study demonstrates an independent, local emergence of a variant carrying a critical mutation, L452R, which may have the potential of becoming a variant of concern and emphasizes the importance of routine surveillance and detection of novel variants among efforts undertaken to prevent further disease spread.

18.
PLoS One ; 16(8): e0255691, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1344159

ABSTRACT

Accurate and timely diagnosis of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is clinically essential, and is required also to monitor confirmed cases aiming to prevent further spread. Positive real-time PCR results at late time points following initial diagnosis may be clinically misleading as this methodology cannot account for the infection capabilities and the existence of whole genome sequences. In this study, 47 serial respiratory samples were tested by Allplex-nCoV test (Seegene), a triplex of three assays targeting the SARS-CoV-2 RdRP, E and N genes and subsequently assessed by next generation sequencing (NGS). COVID19 patients were tested at an early stage of the disease, when all these viral gene targets were positive, and at an advanced stage, when only the N gene target was positive in the Allplex-nCoV test. The corresponding NGS results showed the presence of complete viral genome copies at both early and advanced stages of the disease, although the total number of mapped sequences was lower in samples from advanced disease stages. We conclude that reduced viral transmission at this late disease stage may result from the low quantities of complete viral sequences and not solely from transcription favoring the N gene.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Whole Genome Sequencing/methods , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/diagnosis , Female , Genome, Viral/genetics , High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing/methods , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , RNA, Viral/genetics , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity
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