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1.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2022 Jul 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1922213

ABSTRACT

A 22-year-old female with uncontrolled advanced HIV infection was persistently infected with SARS-CoV-2 beta variant for 9 months, the virus accumulating >20 additional mutations. Antiretroviral therapy suppressed HIV and cleared SARS-CoV-2 within 6-9 weeks. Increased vigilance is warranted to benefit affected individuals and prevent the emergence of novel SARS-CoV-2 variants.

2.
Nat Med ; 2022 Jun 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1908212

ABSTRACT

Three lineages (BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3) of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Omicron variant of concern predominantly drove South Africa's fourth Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) wave. We have now identified two new lineages, BA.4 and BA.5, responsible for a fifth wave of infections. The spike proteins of BA.4 and BA.5 are identical, and similar to BA.2 except for the addition of 69-70 deletion (present in the Alpha variant and the BA.1 lineage), L452R (present in the Delta variant), F486V and the wild-type amino acid at Q493. The two lineages differ only outside of the spike region. The 69-70 deletion in spike allows these lineages to be identified by the proxy marker of S-gene target failure, on the background of variants not possessing this feature. BA.4 and BA.5 have rapidly replaced BA.2, reaching more than 50% of sequenced cases in South Africa by the first week of April 2022. Using a multinomial logistic regression model, we estimated growth advantages for BA.4 and BA.5 of 0.08 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.08-0.09) and 0.10 (95% CI: 0.09-0.11) per day, respectively, over BA.2 in South Africa. The continued discovery of genetically diverse Omicron lineages points to the hypothesis that a discrete reservoir, such as human chronic infections and/or animal hosts, is potentially contributing to further evolution and dispersal of the virus.

5.
Int J Infect Dis ; 118: 150-154, 2022 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1838855

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: At present, it is unclear whether the extent of reduced risk of severe disease seen with SARS-Cov-2 Omicron variant infection is caused by a decrease in variant virulence or by higher levels of population immunity. METHODS: RdRp target delay (RTD) in the Seegene AllplexTM 2019-nCoV PCR assay is a proxy marker for the Delta variant. The absence of this proxy marker in the transition period was used to identify suspected Omicron infections. Cox regression was performed for the outcome of hospital admission in those who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on the Seegene AllplexTM assay from November 1 to December 14, 2021 in the Western Cape Province, South Africa, in the public sector. Adjustments were made for vaccination status and prior diagnosis of infection. RESULTS: A total of 150 cases with RTD and 1486 cases without RTD were included. Cases without RTD had a lower hazard of admission (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 0.56; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.34-0.91). Complete vaccination was protective against admission, with an aHR of 0.45 (95% CI, 0.26-0.77). CONCLUSION: Omicron has resulted in a lower risk of hospital admission compared with contemporaneous Delta infection, when using the proxy marker of RTD. Under-ascertainment of reinfections with an immune escape variant remains a challenge to accurately assessing variant virulence.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Hepatitis D , COVID-19/diagnosis , Humans , Polymerase Chain Reaction , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , South Africa/epidemiology , Survival Analysis
6.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-335264

ABSTRACT

South Africa’s fourth COVID-19 wave was driven predominantly by three lineages (BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3) of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant of concern. We have now identified two new lineages, BA.4 and BA.5. The spike proteins of BA.4 and BA.5 are identical, and comparable to BA.2 except for the addition of 69-70del, L452R, F486V and the wild type amino acid at Q493. The 69-70 deletion in spike allows these lineages to be identified by the proxy marker of S-gene target failure with the TaqPath™ COVID-19 qPCR assay. BA.4 and BA.5 have rapidly replaced BA.2, reaching more than 50% of sequenced cases in South Africa from the first week of April 2022 onwards. Using a multinomial logistic regression model, we estimate growth advantages for BA.4 and BA.5 of 0.08 (95% CI: 0.07 - 0.09) and 0.12 (95% CI: 0.09 - 0.15) per day respectively over BA.2 in South Africa.

8.
Trop Med Int Health ; 27(6): 564-573, 2022 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1784751

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: The objective was to compare COVID-19 outcomes in the Omicron-driven fourth wave with prior waves in the Western Cape, assess the contribution of undiagnosed prior infection to differences in outcomes in a context of high seroprevalence due to prior infection and determine whether protection against severe disease conferred by prior infection and/or vaccination was maintained. METHODS: In this cohort study, we included public sector patients aged ≥20 years with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis between 14 November and 11 December 2021 (wave four) and equivalent prior wave periods. We compared the risk between waves of the following outcomes using Cox regression: death, severe hospitalisation or death and any hospitalisation or death (all ≤14 days after diagnosis) adjusted for age, sex, comorbidities, geography, vaccination and prior infection. RESULTS: We included 5144 patients from wave four and 11,609 from prior waves. The risk of all outcomes was lower in wave four compared to the Delta-driven wave three (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) [95% confidence interval (CI)] for death 0.27 [0.19; 0.38]. Risk reduction was lower when adjusting for vaccination and prior diagnosed infection (aHR: 0.41, 95% CI: 0.29; 0.59) and reduced further when accounting for unascertained prior infections (aHR: 0.72). Vaccine protection was maintained in wave four (aHR for outcome of death: 0.24; 95% CI: 0.10; 0.58). CONCLUSIONS: In the Omicron-driven wave, severe COVID-19 outcomes were reduced mostly due to protection conferred by prior infection and/or vaccination, but intrinsically reduced virulence may account for a modest reduction in risk of severe hospitalisation or death compared to the Delta-driven wave.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Clinical Laboratory Techniques , SARS-CoV-2 , Adult , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Testing , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , Cohort Studies , Female , Humans , Male , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Seroepidemiologic Studies , South Africa/epidemiology , Young Adult
9.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 1976, 2022 04 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1783980

ABSTRACT

Global genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 has identified variants associated with increased transmissibility, neutralization resistance and disease severity. Here we report the emergence of the PANGO lineage C.1.2, detected at low prevalence in South Africa and eleven other countries. The initial C.1.2 detection is associated with a high substitution rate, and includes changes within the spike protein that have been associated with increased transmissibility or reduced neutralization sensitivity in SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern or variants of interest. Like Beta and Delta, C.1.2 shows significantly reduced neutralization sensitivity to plasma from vaccinees and individuals infected with the ancestral D614G virus. In contrast, convalescent donors infected with either Beta or Delta show high plasma neutralization against C.1.2. These functional data suggest that vaccine efficacy against C.1.2 will be equivalent to Beta and Delta, and that prior infection with either Beta or Delta will likely offer protection against C.1.2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , Humans , Neutralization Tests , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
10.
Lancet (London, England) ; 399(10331):1224-1224, 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1761938
11.
Lancet ; 399(10330): 1095-1097, 2022 03 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1751237

Subject(s)
Goals , Humans
14.
SSRN;
Preprint in English | SSRN | ID: ppcovidwho-326191

ABSTRACT

A 22-year-old female with uncontrolled advanced HIV infection was persistently infected with SARS-CoV-2 beta variant for 9 months, the virus accumulating >20 additional mutations. Antiretroviral therapy suppressed HIV and cleared SARS-CoV-2 within 6-9 weeks. Increased vigilance is warranted to benefit affected individuals and prevent the emergence of novel SARS-CoV-2 variants.

15.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-321282

ABSTRACT

Background: South Africa has a high degree of inequality between population groups. The first wave of COVID-19 may have affected people in lower socioeconomic groups worse than the affluent. The SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence and the specificity of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests in South Africa is not known. Methods: We tested 405 volunteers representing all socioeconomic strata from the workforce of a popular shopping and tourist complex in central Cape Town with the Abbott SARS-CoV-2 IgG assay. We assessed the association between antibody positivity and COVID-19 symptom status, medical history, and sociodemographic variables. We tested 137 serum samples from healthy controls collected in Cape Town prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, to confirm the specificity of the assay in the local population. Results: Of the 405 volunteers tested one month after the first peak of the epidemic in Cape Town, 96(23.7%) were SARS-CoV-2 IgG positive. Of those who tested positive, 46(47.9%) reported no symptoms of COVID-19 in the previous 6 months. Seropositivity was significantly associated with living in informal housing, residing in a subdistrict with low income-per household, and having a low-earning occupation. The specificity of the assay was 98.54%(95%CI 94.82%-99.82%) in the pre-COVID controls. Conclusions: There is a high background seroprevalence in Cape Town, particularly in people of lower socioeconomic status. Half of cases are asymptomatic, and therefore undiagnosed by local testing strategies. These results cannot be explained by low assay specificity.

16.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 1182, 2022 01 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1642019

ABSTRACT

This study uses wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) to rapidly and, through targeted surveillance, track the geographical distribution of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (Alpha, Beta and Delta) within 24 wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in the Western Cape of South Africa. Information obtained was used to identify the circulating variant of concern (VOC) within a population and retrospectively trace when the predominant variant was introduced. Genotyping analysis of SARS-CoV-2 showed that 50% of wastewater samples harbored signature mutations linked to the Beta variant before the third wave, with the Delta variant absent within the population. Over time, the prevalence of the beta variant decreased steadily. The onset of the third wave resulted in the Delta variant becoming the predominant variant, with a 100% prevalence supporting the theory that the Delta variant was driving the third wave. In silico molecular docking analysis showed that the signature mutations of the Delta variant increased binding to host proteins, suggesting a possible molecular mechanism that increased viral infectivity of the Delta variant.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Wastewater-Based Epidemiological Monitoring , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/genetics , Humans , South Africa/epidemiology
17.
J Virol Methods ; 302: 114471, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1638654

ABSTRACT

Routine SARS-CoV-2 surveillance in the Western Cape region of South Africa (January-August 2021) found a reduced RT-PCR amplification efficiency of the RdRp-gene target of the Seegene, Allplex 2019-nCoV diagnostic assay from June 2021 when detecting the Delta variant. We investigated whether the reduced amplification efficiency denoted by an increased RT-PCR cycle threshold value (RΔE) can be used as an indirect measure of SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant prevalence. We found a significant increase in the median RΔE for patient samples tested from June 2021, which coincided with the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant within our sample set. Whole genome sequencing on a subset of patient samples identified a highly conserved G15451A, non-synonymous mutation exclusively within the RdRp gene of Delta variants, which may cause reduced RT-PCR amplification efficiency. While whole genome sequencing plays an important in identifying novel SARS-CoV-2 variants, monitoring RΔE value can serve as a useful surrogate for rapid tracking of Delta variant prevalence.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing , COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/virology , Diagnostic Tests, Routine , Humans , RNA , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
18.
SSRN; 2021.
Preprint in English | SSRN | ID: ppcovidwho-297201

ABSTRACT

Based on its genetic profile and preliminary in vitro and epidemiological data, the recently emerged SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant is predicted to evade immune responses to some extent. We report a cluster of Omicron variant infections in individuals who had received full primary vaccination series and booster doses with mRNA vaccines. All patients experienced symptomatic COVID-19 but clinical manifestations were mild to moderate. Their SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA loads and anti-spike antibody levels were determined. This series proves that even three doses of mRNA vaccines may not be sufficient to prevent infection and symptomatic disease with the Omicron variant.

19.
2021.
Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-296139

ABSTRACT

The Beta variant of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in South Africa in late 2020 and rapidly became the dominant variant, causing over 95% of infections in the country during and after the second epidemic wave. Here we show rapid replacement of the Beta variant by the Delta variant, a highly transmissible variant of concern (VOC) that emerged in India and subsequently spread around the world. The Delta variant was imported to South Africa primarily from India, spread rapidly in large monophyletic clusters to all provinces, and became dominant within three months of introduction. This was associated with a resurgence in community transmission, leading to a third wave which was associated with a high number of deaths. We estimated a growth advantage for the Delta variant in South Africa of 0.089 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.084-0.093) per day which corresponds to a transmission advantage of 46% (95% CI 44-48) compared to the Beta variant. These data provide additional support for the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant relative to other VOC and highlight how dynamic shifts in the distribution of variants contribute to the ongoing public health threat.

20.
2021.
Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-295924

ABSTRACT

Global genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 has identified variants associated with increased transmissibility, neutralization resistance and disease severity. Here we report the emergence of the PANGO lineage C.1.2, detected at low prevalence in South Africa and eleven other countries. The emergence of C.1.2, associated with a high substitution rate, includes changes within the spike protein that have been associated with increased transmissibility or reduced neutralization sensitivity in SARS-CoV-2 VOC/VOIs. Like Beta and Delta, C.1.2 shows significantly reduced neutralization sensitivity to plasma from vaccinees and individuals infected with the ancestral D614G virus. In contrast, convalescent donors infected with either Beta or Delta showed high plasma neutralization against C.1.2. These functional data suggest that vaccine efficacy against C.1.2 will be equivalent to Beta and Delta, and that prior infection with either Beta or Delta will likely offer protection against C.1.2.

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