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researchsquare; 2022.


Since the first reports of hepatitis of unknown aetiology occurring in UK children, over 1000 cases have been reported worldwide, including 268 cases in the UK, with the majority younger than 6 years old. Using genomic, proteomic and immunohistochemical methods, we undertook extensive investigation of 28 cases and 136 control subjects. In five cases who underwent liver transplantation, we detected high levels of adeno-associated virus 2 (AAV2) in the explanted livers. AAV2 was also detected at high levels in blood from 10/11 non-transplanted cases. Low levels of Adenovirus (HAdV) and Human Herpesvirus 6B (HHV-6B), both of which enable AAV2 lytic replication, were also found in the five explanted livers and blood from 15/17 and 6/9 respectively, of the 23 non-transplant cases tested. In contrast, AAV2 was detected at low titre in 6/100 whole bloods from child controls from cohorts with presence or absence of hepatitis and/or adenovirus infection. Our data show an association of AAV2 at high titre in blood or liver tissue, with unexplained hepatitis in children infected in the recent HAdV-F41 outbreak. We were unable to find evidence by electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry or proteomics of HAdV or AAV2 viral particles or proteins in explanted livers, suggesting that hepatic pathology is not due to direct lytic infection by either virus. The potential that AAV2, although not previously associated with disease, may, together with HAdV-F41 and/or HHV-6, be causally implicated in the outbreak of unexplained hepatitis, requires further investigation.

Adenoviridae Infections , Hepatitis
biorxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.04.12.487988


The severity of disease following infection with SARS-CoV-2 is determined by viral replication kinetics and host immunity, with early T cell responses and/or suppression of viraemia driving a favourable outcome. Recent studies have uncovered a role for cholesterol metabolism in the SARS-CoV-2 life cycle and in T cell function. Here we show that blockade of the enzyme Acyl-CoA:cholesterol acyltransferase (ACAT) with Avasimibe inhibits SARS-CoV-2 entry and fusion independent of transmembrane protease serine 2 expression in multiple cell types. We also demonstrate a role for ACAT in regulating SARS-CoV-2 RNA replication in primary bronchial epithelial cells. Furthermore, Avasimibe boosts the expansion of functional SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells from the blood of patients sampled in the acute phase of infection. Thus, re-purposing of available ACAT inhibitors provides a compelling therapeutic strategy for the treatment of COVID-19 to achieve both antiviral and immunomodulatory effects.

COVID-19 , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.11.24.21266396


Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs), firefighters, and other first responders are at increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection compared to healthcare personnel but have relatively low COVID-19 vaccine uptake. Resistance to COVID-19 vaccine mandates among first responders has the potential to disrupt essential public services and threaten public health and safety. Using data from the HEROES-RECOVER prospective cohorts, we report on the increased illness burden of COVID-19 among unvaccinated first responders. From January to September 2021, first responders contributed to weekly active surveillance for COVID-19-like illness (CLI). Self-collected respiratory specimens collected weekly, irrespective of symptoms, and at the onset CLI were tested by Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) assay for SARS-CoV-2. Among 1415 first responders, 17% were LEOs, 68% firefighters, and 15% had other first responder occupations. Unvaccinated (41%) compared to fully vaccinated (59%) first responders were less likely to believe COVID-19 vaccines are very or extremely effective (17% versus 54%) or very or extremely safe (15% versus 54%). From January through September 2021, among unvaccinated LEOs, the incidence of COVID-19 was 11.9 per 1,000 person-weeks (95%CI=7.0-20.1) compared to only 0.6 (95%CI=0.2-2.5) among vaccinated LEOs. Incidence of COVID-19 was also higher among unvaccinated firefighters (9.0 per 1,000 person-weeks; 95%CI=6.4-12.7) compared to those vaccinated (1.8 per 1,000; 95%CI=1.1-2.8). Once they had laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, unvaccinated first responders were sick for a mean+/-SD of 14.7+/-21.7 days and missed a mean of 38.0+/-46.0 hours of work. These findings suggest that state and local governments with large numbers of unvaccinated first responders may face major disruptions in their workforce due to COVID-19 illness.