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1.
Lancet Microbe ; 4(6): e397-e408, 2023 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2294174

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Despite circumstantial evidence for aerosol and fomite spread of SARS-CoV-2, empirical data linking either pathway with transmission are scarce. Here we aimed to assess whether the presence of SARS-CoV-2 on frequently-touched surfaces and residents' hands was a predictor of SARS-CoV-2 household transmission. METHODS: In this longitudinal cohort study, during the pre-alpha (September to December, 2020) and alpha (B.1.1.7; December, 2020, to April, 2021) SARS-CoV-2 variant waves, we prospectively recruited contacts from households exposed to newly diagnosed COVID-19 primary cases, in London, UK. To maximally capture transmission events, contacts were recruited regardless of symptom status and serially tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection by RT-PCR on upper respiratory tract (URT) samples and, in a subcohort, by serial serology. Contacts' hands, primary cases' hands, and frequently-touched surface-samples from communal areas were tested for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. SARS-CoV-2 URT isolates from 25 primary case-contact pairs underwent whole-genome sequencing (WGS). FINDINGS: From Aug 1, 2020, until March 31, 2021, 620 contacts of PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2-infected primary cases were recruited. 414 household contacts (from 279 households) with available serial URT PCR results were analysed in the full household contacts' cohort, and of those, 134 contacts with available longitudinal serology data and not vaccinated pre-enrolment were analysed in the serology subcohort. Household infection rate was 28·4% (95% CI 20·8-37·5) for pre-alpha-exposed contacts and 51·8% (42·5-61·0) for alpha-exposed contacts (p=0·0047). Primary cases' URT RNA viral load did not correlate with transmission, but was associated with detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA on their hands (p=0·031). SARS-CoV-2 detected on primary cases' hands, in turn, predicted contacts' risk of infection (adjusted relative risk [aRR]=1·70 [95% CI 1·24-2·31]), as did SARS-CoV-2 RNA presence on household surfaces (aRR=1·66 [1·09-2·55]) and contacts' hands (aRR=2·06 [1·57-2·69]). In six contacts with an initial negative URT PCR result, hand-swab (n=3) and household surface-swab (n=3) PCR positivity preceded URT PCR positivity. WGS corroborated household transmission. INTERPRETATION: Presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA on primary cases' and contacts' hands and on frequently-touched household surfaces associates with transmission, identifying these as potential vectors for spread in households. FUNDING: National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit in Respiratory Infections, Medical Research Council.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , Prospective Studies , RNA, Viral/genetics , Longitudinal Studies , Risk Factors , Cohort Studies
2.
Front Immunol ; 14: 1146702, 2023.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2301521

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic enables the analysis of immune responses induced against a novel coronavirus infecting immunologically naïve individuals. This provides an opportunity for analysis of immune responses and associations with age, sex and disease severity. Here we measured an array of solid-phase binding antibody and viral neutralising Ab (nAb) responses in participants (n=337) of the ISARIC4C cohort and characterised their correlation with peak disease severity during acute infection and early convalescence. Overall, the responses in a Double Antigen Binding Assay (DABA) for antibody to the receptor binding domain (anti-RBD) correlated well with IgM as well as IgG responses against viral spike, S1 and nucleocapsid protein (NP) antigens. DABA reactivity also correlated with nAb. As we and others reported previously, there is greater risk of severe disease and death in older men, whilst the sex ratio was found to be equal within each severity grouping in younger people. In older males with severe disease (mean age 68 years), peak antibody levels were found to be delayed by one to two weeks compared with women, and nAb responses were delayed further. Additionally, we demonstrated that solid-phase binding antibody responses reached higher levels in males as measured via DABA and IgM binding against Spike, NP and S1 antigens. In contrast, this was not observed for nAb responses. When measuring SARS-CoV-2 RNA transcripts (as a surrogate for viral shedding) in nasal swabs at recruitment, we saw no significant differences by sex or disease severity status. However, we have shown higher antibody levels associated with low nasal viral RNA indicating a role of antibody responses in controlling viral replication and shedding in the upper airway. In this study, we have shown discernible differences in the humoral immune responses between males and females and these differences associate with age as well as with resultant disease severity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Male , Humans , Female , Aged , SARS-CoV-2 , Prospective Studies , Antibody Formation , RNA, Viral , Antibodies, Viral , Nucleocapsid Proteins , Hospitals , Patient Acuity , Immunoglobulin M
3.
PLoS One ; 17(9): e0273966, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2009716

ABSTRACT

The early transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 in the UK are unknown but their investigation is critical to aid future pandemic planning. We tested over 11,000 anonymised, stored historic antenatal serum samples, given at two north-west London NHS trusts in 2019 and 2020, for total antibody to SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (anti-RBD). Estimated prevalence of seroreactivity increased from 1% prior to mid-February 2020 to 17% in September 2020. Our results show higher prevalence of seroreactivity to SARS-CoV-2 in younger, non-white ethnicity, and more deprived groups. We found no significant interaction between the effects of ethnicity and deprivation. Derived from prevalence, the estimated incidence of seroreactivity reflects the trends observed in daily hospitalisations and deaths in London that followed 10 and 13 days later, respectively. We quantified community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in London, which peaked in late March / early April 2020 with no evidence of community transmission until after January 2020. Our study was not able to determine the date of introduction of the SARS-CoV-2 virus but demonstrates the value of stored antenatal serum samples as a resource for serosurveillance during future outbreaks.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Incidence , Pandemics , Pregnancy , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2
6.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 1885, 2022 02 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1671623

ABSTRACT

At-home sampling is key to large scale seroprevalence studies. Dried blood spot (DBS) self-sampling removes the need for medical personnel for specimen collection but facilitates specimen referral to an appropriately accredited laboratory for accurate sample analysis. To establish a highly sensitive and specific antibody assay that would facilitate self-sampling for prevalence and vaccine-response studies. Paired sera and DBS eluates collected from 439 sero-positive, 382 sero-negative individuals and DBS from 34 vaccine recipients were assayed by capture ELISAs for IgG and IgM antibody to SARS-CoV-2. IgG and IgM combined on DBS eluates achieved a diagnostic sensitivity of 97.9% (95%CI 96.6 to 99.3) and a specificity of 99.2% (95% CI 98.4 to 100) compared to serum, displaying limits of detection equivalent to 23 and 10 WHO IU/ml, respectively. A strong correlation (r = 0.81) was observed between serum and DBS reactivities. Reactivity remained stable with samples deliberately rendered inadequate, (p = 0.234) and when samples were accidentally damaged or 'invalid'. All vaccine recipients were sero-positive. This assay provides a secure method for self-sampling by DBS with a sensitivity comparable to serum. The feasibility of DBS testing in sero-prevalence studies and in monitoring post-vaccine responses was confirmed, offering a robust and reliable tool for serological monitoring at a population level.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19 Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , Dried Blood Spot Testing/methods , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Immunoglobulin M/blood , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Specimen Handling/methods , Biomarkers/blood , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Feasibility Studies , Female , Humans , Male , Sensitivity and Specificity , Seroepidemiologic Studies
8.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 80, 2022 01 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1616982

ABSTRACT

Cross-reactive immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 have been observed in pre-pandemic cohorts and proposed to contribute to host protection. Here we assess 52 COVID-19 household contacts to capture immune responses at the earliest timepoints after SARS-CoV-2 exposure. Using a dual cytokine FLISpot assay on peripheral blood mononuclear cells, we enumerate the frequency of T cells specific for spike, nucleocapsid, membrane, envelope and ORF1 SARS-CoV-2 epitopes that cross-react with human endemic coronaviruses. We observe higher frequencies of cross-reactive (p = 0.0139), and nucleocapsid-specific (p = 0.0355) IL-2-secreting memory T cells in contacts who remained PCR-negative despite exposure (n = 26), when compared with those who convert to PCR-positive (n = 26); no significant difference in the frequency of responses to spike is observed, hinting at a limited protective function of spike-cross-reactive T cells. Our results are thus consistent with pre-existing non-spike cross-reactive memory T cells protecting SARS-CoV-2-naïve contacts from infection, thereby supporting the inclusion of non-spike antigens in second-generation vaccines.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Contact Tracing/methods , Cross Reactions/immunology , Memory T Cells/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Coronavirus/immunology , Coronavirus/physiology , Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte/immunology , Female , Humans , Male , Memory T Cells/metabolism , Memory T Cells/virology , Middle Aged , Pandemics/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Viral Proteins/genetics , Viral Proteins/immunology , Viral Proteins/metabolism , Young Adult
10.
J Clin Virol ; 146: 105049, 2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1540752

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The highly transmissible Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 (B.1.617.2), first identified in India, is currently replacing pre-existing variants in many parts of the world. To help guide public health policies it is important to monitor efficiently its spread. Genome sequencing is the gold standard for identification of Delta, but is time-consuming, expensive, and unavailable in many regions. OBJECTIVE: To develop and evaluate a rapid, simple and inexpensive alternative to sequencing for Delta identification. METHODS: A double-mismatch allele-specific RT-PCR (DMAS-RT-PCR) was developed. The technique exploits allele-specific primers, targeting two spike gene mutations, L452R and T478K, within the same amplicon. The discriminatory power of each primer was enhanced by an additional mismatch located at the fourth nucleotide from the 3' end. Specificity was assessed by testing well characterised cell culture-derived viral isolates and clinical samples, most of which had previously been fully sequenced. RESULTS: In all cases the results of viral genotyping by DMAS-RT-PCR were entirely concordant with the results of sequencing, and the assay was shown to discriminate reliably between the Delta variant and other variants (Alpha and Beta), and 'wild-type' SARS-CoV-2. Influenza A and RSV were non-reactive in the assay. The sensitivity of DMAS-RT-PCR matched that of the diagnostic SARS-CoV-2 RT-qPCR screening assay. Several samples that could not be sequenced due to insufficient virus were successfully genotyped by DMAS-RT-PCR. CONCLUSION: The method we describe would be simple to establish in any laboratory that can conduct PCR assays and should greatly facilitate monitoring of the spread of the Delta variant globally.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Alleles , Humans , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction , Reverse Transcription , Sensitivity and Specificity
11.
Sci Adv ; 7(22)2021 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1388434

ABSTRACT

The coronaviral spike is the dominant viral antigen and the target of neutralizing antibodies. We show that SARS-CoV-2 spike binds biliverdin and bilirubin, the tetrapyrrole products of heme metabolism, with nanomolar affinity. Using cryo-electron microscopy and x-ray crystallography, we mapped the tetrapyrrole interaction pocket to a deep cleft on the spike N-terminal domain (NTD). At physiological concentrations, biliverdin significantly dampened the reactivity of SARS-CoV-2 spike with immune sera and inhibited a subset of neutralizing antibodies. Access to the tetrapyrrole-sensitive epitope is gated by a flexible loop on the distal face of the NTD. Accompanied by profound conformational changes in the NTD, antibody binding requires relocation of the gating loop, which folds into the cleft vacated by the metabolite. Our results indicate that SARS-CoV-2 spike NTD harbors a dominant epitope, access to which can be controlled by an allosteric mechanism that is regulated through recruitment of a metabolite.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Heme/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , Antibodies, Monoclonal/metabolism , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Bilirubin/metabolism , Biliverdine/metabolism , Cryoelectron Microscopy , Crystallography, X-Ray , Epitopes , Humans , Immune Sera , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity
12.
Kidney Int ; 99(6): 1470-1477, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1386157

ABSTRACT

Patients with end stage kidney disease receiving in-center hemodialysis (ICHD) have had high rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Following infection, patients receiving ICHD frequently develop circulating antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, even with asymptomatic infection. Here, we investigated the durability and functionality of the immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients receiving ICHD. Three hundred and fifty-six such patients were longitudinally screened for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and underwent routine PCR-testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic infection. Patients were regularly screened for nucleocapsid protein (anti-NP) and receptor binding domain (anti-RBD) antibodies, and those who became seronegative at six months were screened for SARS-CoV-2 specific T-cell responses. One hundred and twenty-nine (36.2%) patients had detectable antibody to anti-NP at time zero, of whom 127 also had detectable anti-RBD. Significantly, at six months, 71/111 (64.0%) and 99/116 (85.3%) remained anti-NP and anti-RBD seropositive, respectively. For patients who retained antibody, both anti-NP and anti-RBD levels were reduced significantly after six months. Eleven patients who were anti-NP seropositive at time zero, had no detectable antibody at six months; of whom eight were found to have SARS-CoV-2 antigen specific T cell responses. Independent of antibody status at six months, patients with baseline positive SARS-CoV-2 serology were significantly less likely to have PCR confirmed infection over the following six months. Thus, patients receiving ICHD mount durable immune responses six months post SARS-CoV-2 infection, with fewer than 3% of patients showing no evidence of humoral or cellular immunity.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/analysis , COVID-19/immunology , Kidney Failure, Chronic/therapy , Renal Dialysis/adverse effects , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , COVID-19 Testing , Female , Humans , Immunity , Male , Pandemics , Polymerase Chain Reaction , Reinfection , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Serologic Tests/methods
13.
J Infect Dis ; 223(10): 1671-1676, 2021 05 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1246720

ABSTRACT

It is currently unknown how post-COVID-19 syndrome (PCS) may affect those infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This longitudinal study includes healthcare staff who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 between March and April 2020, with follow-up of their antibody titers and symptoms. More than half (21 of 38) had PCS after 7-8 months. There was no statistically significant difference between initial reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction titers or serial antibody levels between those who did and those who did not develop PCS. This study highlights the relative commonality of PCS in healthcare workers and this should be considered in vaccination scheduling and workforce planning to allow adequate frontline staffing numbers.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/biosynthesis , COVID-19/complications , Health Personnel , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , Aged , Anosmia , COVID-19/immunology , Cohort Studies , Fatigue , Female , Headache , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , Male , Middle Aged , Nasopharynx/virology , Respiratory Tract Diseases , Surveys and Questionnaires , Syndrome , United Kingdom , Young Adult
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