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1.
Frontiers in public health ; 10, 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-2073841

ABSTRACT

Genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 has been essential to inform public health response to outbreaks. The high incidence of infection has resulted in a smaller proportion of cases undergoing whole genome sequencing due to finite resources. We present a framework for estimating the impact of reduced depths of genomic surveillance on the resolution of outbreaks, based on a clustering approach using pairwise genetic and temporal distances. We apply the framework to simulated outbreak data to show that outbreaks are detected less frequently when fewer cases are subjected to whole genome sequencing. The impact of sequencing fewer cases depends on the size of the outbreaks, and on the genetic and temporal similarity of the index cases of the outbreaks. We also apply the framework to an outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant in New South Wales, Australia. We find that the detection of clusters in the outbreak would have been delayed if fewer cases had been sequenced. Existing recommendations for genomic surveillance estimate the minimum number of cases to sequence in order to detect and monitor new virus variants, assuming representative sampling of cases. Our method instead measures the resolution of clustering, which is important for genomic epidemiology, and accommodates sampling biases.

2.
Viruses ; 14(9)2022 09 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2033143

ABSTRACT

In late November 2021, the World Health Organization declared the SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.529 the fifth variant of concern, Omicron. This variant has acquired over 30 mutations in the spike protein (with 15 in the receptor-binding domain), raising concerns that Omicron could evade naturally acquired and vaccine-derived immunity. We utilized an authentic virus, multicycle neutralisation assay to demonstrate that sera collected one, three, and six months post-two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 had a limited ability to neutralise SARS-CoV-2. However, four weeks after a third dose, neutralising antibody titres were boosted. Despite this increase, neutralising antibody titres were reduced fourfold for Omicron compared to lineage A.2.2 SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Vaccines , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , BNT162 Vaccine , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Viral Envelope Proteins/genetics
3.
Viruses ; 14(8)2022 08 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1987989

ABSTRACT

In order to rapidly differentiate sublineages BA.1 and BA.2 of the SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern Omicron, we developed a real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction to target the discriminatory spike protein deletion at amino acid position 69-70 (S:del69-70). Compared to the gold standard of whole genome sequencing, the candidate assay was 100% sensitive and 99.4% specific. Sublineage typing by RT-PCR can provide a rapid, high throughput and cost-effective method to enhance surveillance as well as potentially guiding treatment and infection control decisions.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19 Testing , Humans , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase/genetics , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
4.
Front Microbiol ; 13: 824217, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1952411

ABSTRACT

Background: Low frequency intrahost single nucleotide variants (iSNVs) of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) have been increasingly recognised as predictive indicators of positive selection. Particularly as growing numbers of SARS-CoV-2 variants of interest (VOI) and concern (VOC) emerge. However, the dynamics of subgenomic RNA (sgRNA) expression and its impact on genomic diversity and infection outcome remain poorly understood. This study aims to investigate and quantify iSNVs and sgRNA expression in single and longitudinally sampled cohorts over the course of mild and severe SARS-CoV-2 infection, benchmarked against an in vitro infection model. Methods: Two clinical cohorts of SARS-CoV-2 positive cases in New South Wales, Australia collected between March 2020 and August 2021 were sequenced. Longitudinal samples from cases hospitalised due to SARS-CoV-2 infection (severe) (n = 16) were analysed and compared with cases that presented with SARS-CoV-2 symptoms but were not hospitalised (mild) (n = 23). SARS-CoV-2 genomic diversity profiles were also examined from daily sampling of culture experiments for three SARS-CoV-2 variants (Lineage A, B.1.351, and B.1.617.2) cultured in VeroE6 C1008 cells (n = 33). Results: Intrahost single nucleotide variants were detected in 83% (19/23) of the mild cohort cases and 100% (16/16) of the severe cohort cases. SNP profiles remained relatively fixed over time, with an average of 1.66 SNPs gained or lost, and an average of 4.2 and 5.9 low frequency variants per patient were detected in severe and mild infection, respectively. sgRNA was detected in 100% (25/25) of the mild genomes and 92% (24/26) of the severe genomes. Total sgRNA expressed across all genes in the mild cohort was significantly higher than that of the severe cohort. Significantly higher expression levels were detected in the spike and the nucleocapsid genes. There was significantly less sgRNA detected in the culture dilutions than the clinical cohorts. Discussion and Conclusion: The positions and frequencies of iSNVs in the severe and mild infection cohorts were dynamic overtime, highlighting the importance of continual monitoring, particularly during community outbreaks where multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants may co-circulate. sgRNA levels can vary across patients and the overall level of sgRNA reads compared to genomic RNA can be less than 1%. The relative contribution of sgRNA to the severity of illness warrants further investigation given the level of variation between genomes. Further monitoring of sgRNAs will improve the understanding of SARS-CoV-2 evolution and the effectiveness of therapeutic and public health containment measures during the pandemic.

5.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 2745, 2022 05 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1931393

ABSTRACT

Co-infections with different variants of SARS-CoV-2 are a key precursor to recombination events that are likely to drive SARS-CoV-2 evolution. Rapid identification of such co-infections is required to determine their frequency in the community, particularly in populations at-risk of severe COVID-19, which have already been identified as incubators for punctuated evolutionary events. However, limited data and tools are currently available to detect and characterise the SARS-CoV-2 co-infections associated with recognised variants of concern. Here we describe co-infection with the SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern Omicron and Delta in two epidemiologically unrelated adult patients with chronic kidney disease requiring maintenance haemodialysis. Both variants were co-circulating in the community at the time of detection. Genomic surveillance based on amplicon- and probe-based sequencing using short- and long-read technologies identified and quantified subpopulations of Delta and Omicron viruses in respiratory samples. These findings highlight the importance of integrated genomic surveillance in vulnerable populations and provide diagnostic pathways to recognise SARS-CoV-2 co-infection using genomic data.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Coinfection , Genomics , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
6.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-337287

ABSTRACT

The emergence of resistance to antiviral drugs increasingly used to treat SARS-CoV-2 infections has been recognised as a significant threat to COVID-19 control. In addition, some SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern appear to be intrinsically resistant to several classes of these antiviral agents. Therefore, there is a critical need for rapid recognition of clinically relevant polymorphisms in SARS-CoV-2 genomes associated with significant reduction of drug activity in virus neutralisation experiments. Here we present SABRes, a bioinformatic tool, which leverages on expanding public datasets of SARS-CoV-2 genomes and allows detection of drug resistance mutations in consensus genomes as well as in viral subpopulations. We have applied SABRes to detect resistance-conferring mutations in over 25,000 genomes generated over the course of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in Australia.

8.
EuropePMC;
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-327656

ABSTRACT

We identified the co-infection of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron and Delta variants in two epidemiologically unrelated patients with chronic kidney disease requiring haemodialysis. Both SARS-CoV-2 variants were co-circulating locally at the time of detection. Amplicon- and probe-based sequencing using short- and long-read technologies identified and quantified Omicron and Delta subpopulations in respiratory samples from the two patients. These findings highlight the importance of genomic surveillance in vulnerable populations.

9.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-305797

ABSTRACT

Objective: To adapt ‘fishplots’ to describe SARS-CoV-2 genomic cluster evolution. Results: : This novel analysis adapted the fishplot to depict the size and duration of circulating genomic clusters over time in New South Wales, Australia. It illuminated the effectiveness of interventions on the emergence, spread and eventual elimination of clusters and distilled genomic data into clear information to inform public health action.

10.
Viruses ; 14(2)2022 01 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1625191

ABSTRACT

Whole-genome sequencing of viral isolates is critical for informing transmission patterns and for the ongoing evolution of pathogens, especially during a pandemic. However, when genomes have low variability in the early stages of a pandemic, the impact of technical and/or sequencing errors increases. We quantitatively assessed inter-laboratory differences in consensus genome assemblies of 72 matched SARS-CoV-2-positive specimens sequenced at different laboratories in Sydney, Australia. Raw sequence data were assembled using two different bioinformatics pipelines in parallel, and resulting consensus genomes were compared to detect laboratory-specific differences. Matched genome sequences were predominantly concordant, with a median pairwise identity of 99.997%. Identified differences were predominantly driven by ambiguous site content. Ignoring these produced differences in only 2.3% (5/216) of pairwise comparisons, each differing by a single nucleotide. Matched samples were assigned the same Pango lineage in 98.2% (212/216) of pairwise comparisons, and were mostly assigned to the same phylogenetic clade. However, epidemiological inference based only on single nucleotide variant distances may lead to significant differences in the number of defined clusters if variant allele frequency thresholds for consensus genome generation differ between laboratories. These results underscore the need for a unified, best-practices approach to bioinformatics between laboratories working on a common outbreak problem.


Subject(s)
Computational Biology/standards , Consensus , Genome, Viral , Laboratories/standards , Public Health , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Australia , Computational Biology/methods , Humans , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/classification , Whole Genome Sequencing
11.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-296535

ABSTRACT

In late November 2021, the World Health Organization declared the SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.529 the fifth variant of concern, Omicron. This variant has acquired 15 mutations in the receptor binding domain of the spike protein, raising concerns that Omicron could evade naturally acquired and vaccine-derived immunity. We utilized an authentic virus, multicycle neutralisation assay to demonstrate that sera collected 1, 3, and 6 months post-two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 has a limited ability to neutralise SARS-CoV-2. However, four weeks after a third dose, neutralizing antibody titres are boosted. Despite this increase, neutralising antibody titres are reduced 4-fold for Omicron compared to lineage A.2.2 SARS-CoV-2.

12.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-292984

ABSTRACT

Background: Low frequency intrahost single nucleotide variants (iSNVs) of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) have been increasingly recognised as predictive indicators of positive selection. Particularly as growing numbers of SARS-CoV-2 variants of interest (VOI) and concern (VOC) emerge. However, the dynamics of subgenomic RNA (sgRNA) expression and its impact on genomic diversity and infection outcome remain poorly understood. This study aims to investigate and quantify iSNVs and sgRNA expression in single and longitudinally sampled cohorts over the course of mild and severe SARS-CoV-2 infection benchmarked against an in-vitro infection model. Methods: Two clinical cohorts of SARS-CoV-2 positive cases in New South Wales, Australia collected between March 2020 and August 2021 were sequenced. Longitudinal samples from cases hospitalised due to SARS-CoV-2 infection (severe) were analysed and compared with cases that presented with SARS-CoV-2 symptoms but were not hospitalised (mild). SARS-CoV-2 genomic diversity profiles were also examined from daily sampling of culture experiments for three SARS-CoV-2 variants (Lineage A, B.1.351, and B.1.617.2) cultured in VeroE6 C1008 cells (n = 33). Results: ISNVs were detected in 83% (19/23) of the mild cohort cases and 100% (16/16) of the severe cohort cases. SNP profiles remained relatively fixed over time, with an average of 1.66 SNPs gained or lost and an average of 4.2 and 5.9 low frequency variants per patient were detected in severe and mild infection, respectively. SgRNA was detected in 100% (25/25) of the mild genomes and 92% (24/26) of the severe genomes. Total sgRNA expressed across all genes in the mild cohort was significantly higher than that of the severe cohort. Significantly higher expression levels were detected in the spike and the nucleocapsid genes. There was significantly less sgRNA detected in the culture cohort than the clinical. Discussion and Conclusions: The positions and frequencies of iSNVs in the severe and mild infection cohorts were dynamic overtime, highlighting the importance of continual monitoring, particularly during community outbreaks where multiple SARS-Cov-2 variants may co-circulate. SgRNA levels can vary across patients and the overall level of sgRNA reads compared to genomic RNA can be less than 1%. The relative contribution of sgRNA to the severity of illness warrants further investigation given the level of variation between genomes. Further monitoring of sgRNAs will improve the understanding of SARS-CoV-2 evolution and the effectiveness of therapeutic and public health containment measures during the pandemic.

13.
BMC Res Notes ; 14(1): 415, 2021 Nov 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1523326

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To adapt 'fishplots' to describe real-time evolution of SARS-CoV-2 genomic clusters. RESULTS: This novel analysis adapted the fishplot to depict the size and duration of circulating genomic clusters over time in New South Wales, Australia. It illuminated the effectiveness of interventions on the emergence, spread and eventual elimination of clusters and distilled genomic data into clear information to inform public health action.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Australia , Genomics , Humans , New South Wales , SARS-CoV-2
14.
Public Health Res Pract ; 31(3)2021 Sep 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1399672

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: To describe local operational aspects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response during the first three waves of outbreaks in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, which began in January, July and December 2020. Type of program or service: Public health outbreak response. METHODS: Narrative with epidemiological linking and genomic testing. RESULTS: Epidemiological linking and genomic testing found that during the first wave of COVID-19 in NSW, a large number of community transmissions went undetected because of limited testing for the virus and limited contact tracing of cases. The second wave of COVID-19 in NSW emerged following reintroduction from the second wave in Victoria, Australia in July 2020, and the third wave followed undetected introduction from overseas. By the second and third waves, cases could be more effectively detected and isolated through an increased ability to test and contact trace, and to rapidly genomic sequence severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) isolates, allowing most cases to be identified and epidemiologically linked. This greater certainty in understanding chains of transmission resulted in control of the outbreaks despite less stringent restrictions on the community, by using a refined strategy of targeted shutdown, restrictions on cases, their close contacts, identified hotspots and venues of concern rather than a whole of community lockdown. Risk assessments of potential transmission sites were constantly updated through our evolving experience with transmission events. However, this refined strategy did leave the potential for large point source outbreaks should any cases go undetected. [Addendum] A fourth wave that began in Sydney in June 2021 challenged this strategy due to the more transmissible nature of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2. LESSONS LEARNT: A wave of COVID-19 infections can develop quickly from one infected person. The community needs to remain vigilant, adhering to physical distancing measures, signing in to venues they visit, and getting tested if they have any symptoms. Signing out of venues on exit allows public health resources to be used more efficiently to respond to outbreaks.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Communicable Disease Control/methods , Disease Outbreaks/statistics & numerical data , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19 Testing/methods , Child , Child, Preschool , Communicable Disease Control/organization & administration , Contact Tracing/methods , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Female , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Male , Middle Aged , New South Wales/epidemiology , Physical Distancing , Public Health , Quarantine/methods , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Victoria/epidemiology , Young Adult
15.
Virus Evol ; 6(1): veaa027, 2020 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1388022

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 epidemic has rapidly spread outside China with major outbreaks occurring in Italy, South Korea, and Iran. Phylogenetic analyses of whole-genome sequencing data identified a distinct SARS-CoV-2 clade linked to travellers returning from Iran to Australia and New Zealand. This study highlights potential viral diversity driving the epidemic in Iran, and underscores the power of rapid genome sequencing and public data sharing to improve the detection and management of emerging infectious diseases.

16.
PLoS Med ; 18(7): e1003656, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1298076

ABSTRACT

The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibody neutralization response and its evasion by emerging viral variants and variant of concern (VOC) are unknown, but critical to understand reinfection risk and breakthrough infection following vaccination. Antibody immunoreactivity against SARS-CoV-2 antigens and Spike variants, inhibition of Spike-driven virus-cell fusion, and infectious SARS-CoV-2 neutralization were characterized in 807 serial samples from 233 reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)-confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) individuals with detailed demographics and followed up to 7 months. A broad and sustained polyantigenic immunoreactivity against SARS-CoV-2 Spike, Membrane, and Nucleocapsid proteins, along with high viral neutralization, was associated with COVID-19 severity. A subgroup of "high responders" maintained high neutralizing responses over time, representing ideal convalescent plasma donors. Antibodies generated against SARS-CoV-2 during the first COVID-19 wave had reduced immunoreactivity and neutralization potency to emerging Spike variants and VOC. Accurate monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses would be essential for selection of optimal responders and vaccine monitoring and design.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Adult , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Nucleocapsid Proteins/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology
17.
Aust N Z J Public Health ; 45(5): 512-516, 2021 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1285002

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To explore the factors associated with the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to patrons of a restaurant. METHODS: A retrospective cohort design was undertaken, with spatial examination and genomic sequencing of cases. The cohort included all patrons who attended the restaurant on Saturday 25 July 2020. A case was identified as a person who tested positive to a validated specific Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) nucleic acid test. Associations were tested using chi-squared analysis of case versus non-case behaviours. RESULTS: Twenty cases were epidemiologically linked to exposure at the restaurant on 25 July 2020. All cases dined indoors. All cases able to be genomic sequenced were found to have the same unique mutational profile. Factors tested for an association to the outcome included attentiveness by staff, drink consumption, bathroom use and payment by credit card. No significant results were found. CONCLUSION: Indoor dining was identified as a key factor in SARS-CoV-2 transmission, and outdoor dining as a way to limit transmission. Implications for public health: This investigation provides empirical evidence to support public health policies regarding indoor dining.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , Restaurants , Adult , Australia/epidemiology , Cohort Studies , Female , Humans , Male , Risk Factors
18.
Emerg Infect Dis ; 27(6): 1677-1680, 2021 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1170064

ABSTRACT

An outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection occurred among church attendees after an infectious chorister sang at multiple services. We detected 12 secondary case-patients. Video recordings of the services showed that case-patients were seated in the same section, up to 15 m from the primary case-patient, without close physical contact, suggesting airborne transmission.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Singing , Australia/epidemiology , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
19.
PLoS One ; 15(11): e0242537, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-930647

ABSTRACT

A second cluster of COVID-19 cases imported from Europe occured in Vietnam from early March 2020. We describe 44 SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR positive patients (cycle threshold value <30) admitted to the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi between March 6 and April 15 2020. Whole SARS-CoV-2 genomes from these patients were sequenced using Illumina Miseq and analysed for common genetic variants and relationships to local and globally circulating strains. Results showed that 32 cases were Vietnamese with a median age of 37 years (range 15-74 years), and 23 were male. Most cases were acquired outside Vietnam, mainly from the UK (n = 15), other European countries (n = 14), Russia (n = 6) and countries in Asia (n = 3). No cases had travelled from China. Forty-one cases had symptoms at admission, typically dry cough (n = 36), fever (n = 20), sore throat (n = 14) and diarrhoea (n = 12). Hospitalisation was long with a median of 25 days, most commonly from 20-29 days. All SARS-CoV-2 genomes were similar (92-100% sequence homology) to the reference sequence Wuhan_1 (NC_045512), and 32 strains belonged to the B.1.1 lineage. The three most common variants were linked, and included C3037T, C14408T (nsp12: P323L) and A23403G (S: D614G) mutations. This group of mutations often accompanied variant C241T (39/44 genomes) or GGG 28881..28883 AAC (33/44 genomes). The prevalence of the former reflected probable European origin of viruses, and the transition D614G was dominant in Vietnam. New variants were identified; however, none could be associated with disease severity.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , COVID-19 , Female , Genetic Variation , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Prevalence , SARS-CoV-2 , Travel-Related Illness , Vietnam , Young Adult
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