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Nat Commun ; 13(1): 3645, 2022 06 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1908172


Recombination is an evolutionary process by which many pathogens generate diversity and acquire novel functions. Although a common occurrence during coronavirus replication, detection of recombination is only feasible when genetically distinct viruses contemporaneously infect the same host. Here, we identify an instance of SARS-CoV-2 superinfection, whereby an individual was infected with two distinct viral variants: Alpha (B.1.1.7) and Epsilon (B.1.429). This superinfection was first noted when an Alpha genome sequence failed to exhibit the classic S gene target failure behavior used to track this variant. Full genome sequencing from four independent extracts reveals that Alpha variant alleles comprise around 75% of the genomes, whereas the Epsilon variant alleles comprise around 20% of the sample. Further investigation reveals the presence of numerous recombinant haplotypes spanning the genome, specifically in the spike, nucleocapsid, and ORF 8 coding regions. These findings support the potential for recombination to reshape SARS-CoV-2 genetic diversity.

COVID-19 , Superinfection , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , New York City/epidemiology , Recombination, Genetic , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
J Infect ; 84(1): 48-55, 2022 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1446863


Background Controlling the spread of SARS-CoV-2 is problematic because of transmission driven by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals. Community screening can help identify these individuals but is often too expensive for countries with limited health care resources. Low-cost ELISA assays may address this problem, but their use has not yet been widely reported. Methods We developed a SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid ELISA and assessed its diagnostic performance on nose and throat swab samples from UK hospitalised patients and sputum samples from patients in Ghana. Results The ELISA had a limit of detection of 8.4 pg/ml antigen and 16 pfu/ml virus. When tested on UK samples (128 positive and 10 negative patients), sensitivity was 58.6% (49.6-67.2) rising to 78.3% (66.7-87.3) if real-time PCR Ct values > 30 were excluded, while specificity was 100% (69.2-100). In a second trial using the Ghanaian samples (121 positive, 96 negative), sensitivity was 52% (42.8-61.2) rising to 72.6% (61.8-81.2) when a > 30 Ct cut-off was applied, while specificity was 100% (96.2-100). Conclusions: Our data show that nucleocapsid ELISAs can test a variety of patient sample types while achieving levels of sensitivity and specificity required for effective community screening. Further investigations into the opportunities that this provides are warranted.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay , Ghana , Humans , Nucleocapsid , Sensitivity and Specificity
Exp Biol Med (Maywood) ; 246(8): 960-970, 2021 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-978882


The confirmed case fatality rate for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Ghana has dropped from a peak of 2% in March to be consistently below 1% since May 2020. Globally, case fatality rates have been linked to the strains/clades of circulating severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) within a specific country. Here we present 46 whole genomes of SARS-CoV-2 circulating in Ghana, from two separate sequencing batches: 15 isolates from the early epidemic (March 12-April 1 2020) and 31 from later time-points ( 25-27 May 2020). Sequencing was carried out on an Illumina MiSeq system following an amplicon-based enrichment for SARS-CoV-2 cDNA. After genome assembly and quality control processes, phylogenetic analysis showed that the first batch of 15 genomes clustered into five clades: 19A, 19B, 20A, 20B, and 20C, whereas the second batch of 31 genomes clustered to only three clades 19B, 20A, and 20B. The imported cases (6/46) mapped to circulating viruses in their countries of origin, namely, India, Hungary, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. All genomes mapped to the original Wuhan strain with high similarity (99.5-99.8%). All imported strains mapped to the European superclade A, whereas 5/9 locally infected individuals harbored the B4 clade, from the East Asian superclade B. Ghana appears to have 19B and 20B as the two largest circulating clades based on our sequence analyses. In line with global reports, the D614G linked viruses seem to be predominating. Comparison of Ghanaian SARS-CoV-2 genomes with global genomes indicates that Ghanaian strains have not diverged significantly from circulating strains commonly imported into Africa. The low level of diversity in our genomes may indicate lower levels of transmission, even for D614G viruses, which is consistent with the relatively low levels of infection reported in Ghana.

Evolution, Molecular , Genome, Viral , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/epidemiology , Ghana/epidemiology , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity