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1.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-305590

ABSTRACT

Background: Laboratory diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection (the cause of COVID-19) uses PCR to detect viral RNA (vRNA) in respiratory samples. SARS-CoV-2 RNA has also been detected in other sample types, but there is limited understanding of the clinical or laboratory significance of its detection in blood. Methods: We undertook a systematic literature review to assimilate the evidence for the frequency of vRNA in blood, and to identify associated clinical characteristics. We performed RT-PCR in serum samples from a UK clinical cohort of acute and convalescent COVID-19 cases (n=212), together with convalescent plasma samples collected by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) (n=462 additional samples). To determine whether PCR-positive blood samples could pose an infection risk, we attempted virus isolation from a subset of RNA-positive samples. Results: We identified 28 relevant studies, reporting SARS-CoV-2 RNA in 0-76% of blood samples;pooled estimate 10% (95%CI 5-18%). Among serum samples from our clinical cohort, 27/212 (12.7%) had SARS-CoV-2 RNA detected by RT-PCR. RNA detection occurred in samples up to day 20 post symptom onset, and was associated with more severe disease (multivariable odds ratio 7.5). Across all samples collected ≥28 days post symptom onset, 0/494 (0%, 95%CI 0-0.7%) had vRNA detected. Among our PCR-positive samples, cycle threshold (ct) values were high (range 33.5-44.8), suggesting low vRNA copy numbers. PCR-positive sera inoculated into cell culture did not produce any cytopathic effect or yield an increase in detectable SARS-CoV-2 RNA. There was a relationship between RT-PCR negativity and the presence of total SARS-CoV-2 antibody (p=0.02). Conclusions: vRNA was detectable at low viral loads in a minority of serum samples collected in acute infection, but was not associated with infectious SARS-CoV-2 (within the limitations of the assays used). This work helps to inform biosafety precautions for handling blood products from patients with current or previous COVID-19.

2.
Euro Surveill ; 26(27)2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1577032

ABSTRACT

BackgroundInfluenza virus presents a considerable challenge to public health by causing seasonal epidemics and occasional pandemics. Nanopore metagenomic sequencing has the potential to be deployed for near-patient testing, providing rapid infection diagnosis, rationalising antimicrobial therapy, and supporting infection-control interventions.AimTo evaluate the applicability of this sequencing approach as a routine laboratory test for influenza in clinical settings.MethodsWe conducted Oxford Nanopore Technologies (Oxford, United Kingdom (UK)) metagenomic sequencing for 180 respiratory samples from a UK hospital during the 2018/19 influenza season, and compared results to routine molecular diagnostic standards (Xpert Xpress Flu/RSV assay; BioFire FilmArray Respiratory Panel 2 assay). We investigated drug resistance, genetic diversity, and nosocomial transmission using influenza sequence data.ResultsCompared to standard testing, Nanopore metagenomic sequencing was 83% (75/90) sensitive and 93% (84/90) specific for detecting influenza A viruses. Of 59 samples with haemagglutinin subtype determined, 40 were H1 and 19 H3. We identified an influenza A(H3N2) genome encoding the oseltamivir resistance S331R mutation in neuraminidase, potentially associated with an emerging distinct intra-subtype reassortant. Whole genome phylogeny refuted suspicions of a transmission cluster in a ward, but identified two other clusters that likely reflected nosocomial transmission, associated with a predominant community-circulating strain. We also detected other potentially pathogenic viruses and bacteria from the metagenome.ConclusionNanopore metagenomic sequencing can detect the emergence of novel variants and drug resistance, providing timely insights into antimicrobial stewardship and vaccine design. Full genome generation can help investigate and manage nosocomial outbreaks.


Subject(s)
Cross Infection , Influenza, Human , Nanopores , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Cross Infection/diagnosis , Cross Infection/drug therapy , Drug Resistance , Drug Resistance, Viral/genetics , Humans , Influenza A Virus, H3N2 Subtype/genetics , Influenza, Human/diagnosis , Influenza, Human/drug therapy , Influenza, Human/epidemiology , Metagenome , Neuraminidase/genetics , Seasons , United Kingdom
3.
Elife ; 102021 07 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1305889

ABSTRACT

Background: Information on SARS-CoV-2 in representative community surveillance is limited, particularly cycle threshold (Ct) values (a proxy for viral load). Methods: We included all positive nose and throat swabs 26 April 2020 to 13 March 2021 from the UK's national COVID-19 Infection Survey, tested by RT-PCR for the N, S, and ORF1ab genes. We investigated predictors of median Ct value using quantile regression. Results: Of 3,312,159 nose and throat swabs, 27,902 (0.83%) were RT-PCR-positive, 10,317 (37%), 11,012 (40%), and 6550 (23%) for 3, 2, or 1 of the N, S, and ORF1ab genes, respectively, with median Ct = 29.2 (~215 copies/ml; IQR Ct = 21.9-32.8, 14-56,400 copies/ml). Independent predictors of lower Cts (i.e. higher viral load) included self-reported symptoms and more genes detected, with at most small effects of sex, ethnicity, and age. Single-gene positives almost invariably had Ct > 30, but Cts varied widely in triple-gene positives, including without symptoms. Population-level Cts changed over time, with declining Ct preceding increasing SARS-CoV-2 positivity. Of 6189 participants with IgG S-antibody tests post-first RT-PCR-positive, 4808 (78%) were ever antibody-positive; Cts were significantly higher in those remaining antibody negative. Conclusions: Marked variation in community SARS-CoV-2 Ct values suggests that they could be a useful epidemiological early-warning indicator. Funding: Department of Health and Social Care, National Institutes of Health Research, Huo Family Foundation, Medical Research Council UK; Wellcome Trust.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Testing , COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2 , Viral Load , Humans
4.
J Clin Microbiol ; 59(6)2021 05 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1158099

ABSTRACT

LamPORE is a novel diagnostic platform for the detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA combining loop-mediated isothermal amplification with nanopore sequencing, which could potentially be used to analyze thousands of samples per day on a single instrument. We evaluated the performance of LamPORE against reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) using RNA extracted from spiked respiratory samples and stored nose and throat swabs collected at two UK hospitals. The limit of detection of LamPORE was 10 genome copies/µl of extracted RNA, which is above the limit achievable by RT-PCR, but was not associated with a significant reduction of sensitivity in clinical samples. Positive clinical specimens came mostly from patients with acute symptomatic infection, and among them, LamPORE had a diagnostic sensitivity of 99.1% (226/228; 95% confidence interval [CI], 96.9% to 99.9%). Among negative clinical specimens, including 153 with other respiratory pathogens detected, LamPORE had a diagnostic specificity of 99.6% (278/279; 98.0% to 100.0%). Overall, 1.4% (7/514; 0.5% to 2.9%) of samples produced an indeterminate result on first testing, and repeat LamPORE testing on the same RNA extract had a reproducibility of 96.8% (478/494; 94.8% to 98.1%). LamPORE has a similar performance as RT-PCR for the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection in symptomatic patients and offers a promising approach to high-throughput testing.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Nanopore Sequencing , Humans , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques , RNA, Viral/genetics , Reproducibility of Results , SARS-CoV-2 , Sensitivity and Specificity
5.
Wellcome Open Res ; 5: 139, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1140800

ABSTRACT

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic caused >1 million infections during January-March 2020. There is an urgent need for reliable antibody detection approaches to support diagnosis, vaccine development, safe release of individuals from quarantine, and population lock-down exit strategies. We set out to evaluate the performance of ELISA and lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) devices. Methods: We tested plasma for COVID (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2; SARS-CoV-2) IgM and IgG antibodies by ELISA and using nine different LFIA devices. We used a panel of plasma samples from individuals who have had confirmed COVID infection based on a PCR result (n=40), and pre-pandemic negative control samples banked in the UK prior to December-2019 (n=142). Results: ELISA detected IgM or IgG in 34/40 individuals with a confirmed history of COVID infection (sensitivity 85%, 95%CI 70-94%), vs. 0/50 pre-pandemic controls (specificity 100% [95%CI 93-100%]). IgG levels were detected in 31/31 COVID-positive individuals tested ≥10 days after symptom onset (sensitivity 100%, 95%CI 89-100%). IgG titres rose during the 3 weeks post symptom onset and began to fall by 8 weeks, but remained above the detection threshold. Point estimates for the sensitivity of LFIA devices ranged from 55-70% versus RT-PCR and 65-85% versus ELISA, with specificity 95-100% and 93-100% respectively. Within the limits of the study size, the performance of most LFIA devices was similar. Conclusions: Currently available commercial LFIA devices do not perform sufficiently well for individual patient applications. However, ELISA can be calibrated to be specific for detecting and quantifying SARS-CoV-2 IgM and IgG and is highly sensitive for IgG from 10 days following first symptoms.

6.
Science ; 372(6539)2021 04 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1125076

ABSTRACT

Extensive global sampling and sequencing of the pandemic virus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) have enabled researchers to monitor its spread and to identify concerning new variants. Two important determinants of variant spread are how frequently they arise within individuals and how likely they are to be transmitted. To characterize within-host diversity and transmission, we deep-sequenced 1313 clinical samples from the United Kingdom. SARS-CoV-2 infections are characterized by low levels of within-host diversity when viral loads are high and by a narrow bottleneck at transmission. Most variants are either lost or occasionally fixed at the point of transmission, with minimal persistence of shared diversity, patterns that are readily observable on the phylogenetic tree. Our results suggest that transmission-enhancing and/or immune-escape SARS-CoV-2 variants are likely to arise infrequently but could spread rapidly if successfully transmitted.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Genetic Variation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/immunology , Coinfection/virology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Coronavirus OC43, Human , Family Characteristics , Genome, Viral , Humans , Immune Evasion , Mutation , Phylogeny , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA-Seq , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Selection, Genetic , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , United Kingdom , Viral Load
7.
BMC Infect Dis ; 21(1): 187, 2021 Feb 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1090687

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Thresholds for SARS-CoV-2 antibody assays have typically been determined using samples from symptomatic, often hospitalised, patients. In this setting the sensitivity and specificity of the best performing assays can both exceed 98%. However, antibody assay performance following mild infection is less clear. METHODS: We assessed quantitative IgG responses in a cohort of healthcare workers in Oxford, UK, with a high pre-test probability of Covid-19, in particular the 991/11,475(8.6%) who reported loss of smell/taste. We use anosmia/ageusia and other risk factors as probes for Covid-19 infection potentially undiagnosed by immunoassays by investigating their relationship with antibody readings either side of assay thresholds. RESULTS: The proportion of healthcare workers reporting anosmia/ageusia increased at antibody readings below diagnostic thresholds using an in-house ELISA (n = 9324) and the Abbott Architect chemiluminescent microparticle immunoassay (CMIA; n = 11,324): 426/906 (47%) reported anosmia/ageusia with a positive ELISA, 59/449 (13.1%) with high-negative and 326/7969 (4.1%) with low-negative readings. Similarly, by CMIA, 518/1093 (47.4%) with a positive result reported anosmia/ageusia, 106/686 (15.5%) with a high-negative and 358/9563 (3.7%) with a low-negative result. Adjusting for the proportion of staff reporting anosmia/ageusia suggests the sensitivity of both assays in mild infection is lower than previously reported: Oxford ELISA 89.8% (95%CI 86.6-92.8%) and Abbott CMIA 79.3% (75.9-82.7%). CONCLUSION: Following mild SARS-CoV-2 infection 10-30% of individuals may have negative immunoassay results. While lowered diagnostic thresholds may result in unacceptable specificity, our findings have implications for epidemiological analyses and result interpretation in individuals with a high pre-test probability. Samples from mild PCR-confirmed infections should be included in SARS-CoV-2 immunoassay evaluations.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/analysis , COVID-19 Serological Testing/standards , COVID-19/diagnosis , Immunoglobulin G/analysis , Adult , Ageusia/virology , Anosmia/virology , Asymptomatic Infections , Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay/standards , Female , Health Personnel , Humans , Immunoassay/standards , Male , Middle Aged , Sensitivity and Specificity , Undiagnosed Diseases , United Kingdom
8.
Wellcome Open Research ; 2020.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-1024793

ABSTRACT

Background: Laboratory diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection (the cause of COVID-19) uses PCR to detect viral RNA (vRNA) in respiratory samples. SARS-CoV-2 RNA has also been detected in other sample types, but there is limited understanding of the clinical or laboratory significance of its detection in blood. Methods: We undertook a systematic literature review to assimilate the evidence for the frequency of vRNA in blood, and to identify associated clinical characteristics. We performed RT-PCR in serum samples from a UK clinical cohort of acute and convalescent COVID-19 cases (n=212), together with convalescent plasma samples collected by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) (n=462 additional samples). To determine whether PCR-positive blood samples could pose an infection risk, we attempted virus isolation from a subset of RNA-positive samples. Results: We identified 28 relevant studies, reporting SARS-CoV-2 RNA in 0-76% of blood samples;pooled estimate 10% (95%CI 5-18%). Among serum samples from our clinical cohort, 27/212 (12.7%) had SARS-CoV-2 RNA detected by RT-PCR. RNA detection occurred in samples up to day 20 post symptom onset, and was associated with more severe disease (multivariable odds ratio 7.5). Across all samples collected ≥28 days post symptom onset, 0/494 (0%, 95%CI 0-0.7%) had vRNA detected. Among our PCR-positive samples, cycle threshold (ct) values were high (range 33.5-44.8), suggesting low vRNA copy numbers. PCR-positive sera inoculated into cell culture did not produce any cytopathic effect or yield an increase in detectable SARS-CoV-2 RNA. There was a relationship between RT-PCR negativity and the presence of total SARS-CoV-2 antibody (p=0.02). Conclusions: vRNA was detectable at low viral loads in a minority of serum samples collected in acute infection, but was not associated with infectious SARS-CoV-2 (within the limitations of the assays used). This work helps to inform biosafety precautions for handling blood products from patients with current or previous COVID-19.

9.
Elife ; 92020 08 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-727516

ABSTRACT

We conducted voluntary Covid-19 testing programmes for symptomatic and asymptomatic staff at a UK teaching hospital using naso-/oro-pharyngeal PCR testing and immunoassays for IgG antibodies. 1128/10,034 (11.2%) staff had evidence of Covid-19 at some time. Using questionnaire data provided on potential risk-factors, staff with a confirmed household contact were at greatest risk (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 4.82 [95%CI 3.45-6.72]). Higher rates of Covid-19 were seen in staff working in Covid-19-facing areas (22.6% vs. 8.6% elsewhere) (aOR 2.47 [1.99-3.08]). Controlling for Covid-19-facing status, risks were heterogenous across the hospital, with higher rates in acute medicine (1.52 [1.07-2.16]) and sporadic outbreaks in areas with few or no Covid-19 patients. Covid-19 intensive care unit staff were relatively protected (0.44 [0.28-0.69]), likely by a bundle of PPE-related measures. Positive results were more likely in Black (1.66 [1.25-2.21]) and Asian (1.51 [1.28-1.77]) staff, independent of role or working location, and in porters and cleaners (2.06 [1.34-3.15]).


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Health Personnel/statistics & numerical data , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Adolescent , Adult , Age Factors , Aged , Asymptomatic Infections/epidemiology , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Female , Hospitals, Teaching/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Incidence , Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional/statistics & numerical data , Intensive Care Units/statistics & numerical data , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Risk , SARS-CoV-2 , Surveys and Questionnaires , United Kingdom/epidemiology , Young Adult
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