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1.
Embase; 2021.
Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-330496

ABSTRACT

The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) Ad26.COV2.S non-replicating viral vector vaccine has been widely deployed for COVID-19 vaccination programs in resource-limited settings. Here we confirm that neutralizing and binding responses to Ad26.COV2.S vaccination are stable for 6 months post-vaccination, when tested against multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants. Secondly, using longitudinal samples from individuals who experienced clinically mild breakthrough infections 4 to 5 months after vaccination, we show dramatically boosted binding antibodies, Fc effector function and neutralization. These high titer responses are of similar magnitude to humoral immune responses measured in severely ill, hospitalized donors, and are cross-reactive against diverse SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the extremely neutralization resistant Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant that currently dominates global infections, as well as SARS-CoV-1. These data have implications for population immunity in areas where the Ad26.COV2.S vaccine has been widely deployed, but where ongoing infections continue to occur at high levels.

2.
Embase;
Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-326997

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant has multiple Spike (S) protein mutations that contribute to escape from the neutralizing antibody responses, and reducing vaccine protection from infection. 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. We assessed the ability of T cells to react with Omicron spike in participants who were vaccinated with Ad26.CoV2.S or BNT162b2, and in unvaccinated convalescent COVID-19 patients (n = 70). We found that 70-80% 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 to that of the Beta and Delta variants, despite Omicron harbouring considerably more mutations. Additionally, in Omicron-infected hospitalized patients (n = 19), there were comparable T cell responses to ancestral spike, nucleocapsid and membrane proteins to those found in patients hospitalized in previous waves dominated by the ancestral, Beta or Delta variants (n = 49). These results demonstrate that despite Omicron’s extensive mutations and reduced susceptibility to neutralizing antibodies, the majority of T cell response, induced by vaccination or natural infection, crossrecognises the variant. Well-preserved T cell immunity to Omicron is likely to contribute to protection from severe COVID-19, supporting early clinical observations from South Africa.

4.
Afr J Thorac Crit Care Med ; 27(4)2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1502738

ABSTRACT

SUMMARY: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is transmitted mainly by aerosol in particles <10 µm that can remain suspended for hours before being inhaled. Because particulate filtering facepiece respirators ('respirators'; e.g. N95 masks) are more effective than surgical masks against bio-aerosols, many international organisations now recommend that health workers (HWs) wear a respirator when caring for individuals who may have COVID-19. In South Africa (SA), however, surgical masks are still recommended for the routine care of individuals with possible or confirmed COVID-19, with respirators reserved for so-called aerosol-generating procedures. In contrast, SA guidelines do recommend respirators for routine care of individuals with possible or confirmed tuberculosis (TB), which is also transmitted via aerosol. In health facilities in SA, distinguishing between TB and COVID-19 is challenging without examination and investigation, both of which may expose HWs to potentially infectious individuals. Symptom-based triage has limited utility in defining risk. Indeed, significant proportions of individuals with COVID-19 and/or pulmonary TB may not have symptoms and/or test negative. The prevalence of undiagnosed respiratory disease is therefore likely significant in many general clinical areas (e.g. waiting areas). Moreover, a proportion of HWs are HIV-positive and are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 and death. RECOMMENDATIONS: Sustained improvements in infection prevention and control (IPC) require reorganisation of systems to prioritise HW and patient safety. While this will take time, it is unacceptable to leave HWs exposed until such changes are made. We propose that the SA health system adopts a target of 'zero harm', aiming to eliminate transmission of respiratory pathogens to all individuals in every healthcare setting. Accordingly, we recommend: the use of respirators by all staff (clinical and non-clinical) during activities that involve contact or sharing air in indoor spaces with individuals who: (i) have not yet been clinically evaluated; or (ii) are thought or known to have TB and/or COVID-19 or other potentially harmful respiratory infections;the use of respirators that meet national and international manufacturing standards;evaluation of all respirators, at the least, by qualitative fit testing; andthe use of respirators as part of a 'package of care' in line with international IPC recommendations. We recognise that this will be challenging, not least due to global and national shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE). SA national policy around respiratory protective equipment enables a robust framework for manufacture and quality control and has been supported by local manufacturers and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition. Respirator manufacturers should explore adaptations to improve comfort and reduce barriers to communication. Structural changes are needed urgently to improve the safety of health facilities: persistent advocacy and research around potential systems change remain essential.

5.
SAMJ: South African Medical Journal ; 110(7):1-5, 2020.
Article | WHO COVID | ID: covidwho-663359

ABSTRACT

Research is imperative in addressing the COVID-19 epidemic, both in the short and long term. Informed consent is a key pillar of research and should be central to the conduct of COVID-19 research. Yet a range of factors, including physical distancing requirements, risk of exposure and infection to research staff, and multiple pressures on the healthcare environment, have added layers of challenges to the consent process in COVID-19 patients. Internationally, the recognition that consent for COVID-19 research may be imperfect has led to a range of suggestions to ensure that research remains ethical. Drawing on these guidelines, we propose a consent process for COVID-19 research in the South African context that combines individual consent with delayed and proxy consent for individuals who may be temporarily incapacitated, combined with key principles that should be considered in the design of a consent process for COVID-19 research.

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