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1.
medrxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.10.14.22280783

ABSTRACT

The 2022 multi-country monkeypox outbreak concurrent with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the need for genomic surveillance and pathogen whole genome sequencing. While metagenomic sequencing approaches have been used to sequence many of the early human monkeypox virus infections, these methods are resource intensive and require samples with high viral DNA concentrations. Given the atypical clinical presentation of cases associated with the current outbreak and uncertainty regarding viral load across both the course of infection and anatomical body sites, there is an urgent need for a more sensitive and broadly applicable sequencing approach. Amplicon-based sequencing (PrimalSeq) was initially developed for sequencing of Zika virus, and later adapted as the main sequencing approach for SARS-CoV-2. Here, we used PrimalScheme to develop a primer scheme for human monkeypox virus that can be used with many sequencing and bioinformatics pipelines implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. We sequenced clinical samples that tested presumptive positive for monkeypox virus with amplicon-based and metagenomic sequencing approaches. Upon comparison, we found notably higher genome coverage across the virus genome, particularly in higher PCR cycle threshold (lower DNA titer) samples, with minimal amplicon drop-outs, in using the amplicon-based sequencing approach. By sending out primer pool aliquots to laboratories across the United States and internationally, we validated the primer scheme in 12 public health laboratories with their established Illumina or Oxford Nanopore Technologies sequencing workflows and with different sample types across a range of Ct values. Our findings suggest that amplicon-based sequencing increases the success rate across a wider range of viral DNA concentrations, with the PCR Ct value threshold at which laboratories were able to achieve 80% genome coverage at 10X ranging between Ct 25-33. Therefore, it increases the number of samples where near-complete genomes can be generated and it provides a cost-effective and widely applicable alternative to metagenomics for continued human monkeypox virus genomic surveillance. Importantly, we show that the human monkeypox virus primer scheme can be used with currently implemented amplicon-based SARS-CoV-2 sequencing workflows, with minimal change to the protocol.

2.
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.01.08.20248677

ABSTRACT

The second SARS virus, SARS-CoV-2, emerged in December 2019, and within a month was globally distributed. It was first introduced into Scotland in February 2020 associated with returning travellers and visitors. By March it was circulating in communities across the UK, and to control COVID-19 cases, and prevent overwhelming of the National Health Service (NHS), a 'lockdown' was introduced on 23rd March 2020 with a restriction of people's movements. To augment the public health efforts a large-scale genome epidemiology effort (as part of the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium) resulted in the sequencing of over 5000 SARS-CoV-2 genomes by 18th August 2020 from Scottish cases, about a quarter of the estimated number of cases at that time. Here we quantify the geographical origins of the first wave introductions into Scotland from abroad and other UK regions, the spread of these SARS-CoV-2 lineages to different regions within Scotland (defined at the level of NHS Health Board) and the effect of lockdown on virus 'success'. We estimate that approximately 300 introductions seeded lineages in Scotland, with around 25% of these lineages composed of more than five viruses, but by June circulating lineages were reduced to low levels, in line with low numbers of recorded positive cases. Lockdown was, thus, associated with a dramatic reduction in infection numbers and the extinguishing of most virus lineages. Unfortunately since the summer cases have been rising in Scotland in a second wave, with >1000 people testing positive on a daily basis, and hospitalisation of COVID-19 cases on the rise again. Examining the available Scottish genome data from the second wave, and comparing it to the first wave, we find that while some UK lineages have persisted through the summer, the majority of lineages responsible for the second wave are new introductions from outside of Scotland and many from outside of the UK. This indicates that, while lockdown in Scotland is directly linked with the first wave case numbers being brought under control, travel-associated imports (mostly from Europe or other parts of the UK) following the easing of lockdown are responsible for seeding the current epidemic population. This demonstrates that the impact of stringent public health measures can be compromised if following this, movements from regions of high to low prevalence are not minimised.

3.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.01.19.427373

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is an emergent coronavirus that has caused a worldwide pandemic. Although human disease is often asymptomatic, some develop severe illnesses such as pneumonia, respiratory failure, and death. There is an urgent need for a vaccine to prevent its rapid spread as asymptomatic infections accounting for up to 40% of transmission events. Here we further evaluated an inactivated rabies vectored SARS-CoV-2 S1 vaccine CORAVAX in a Syrian hamster model. CORAVAX adjuvanted with MPLA-AddaVax, a TRL4 agonist, induced high levels of neutralizing antibodies and generated a strong Th1-biased immune response. Vaccinated hamsters were protected from weight loss and viral replication in the lungs and nasal turbinates three days after challenge with SARS-CoV-2. CORAVAX also prevented lung disease, as indicated by the significant reduction in lung pathology. This study highlights CORAVAX as a safe, immunogenic, and efficacious vaccine that warrants further assessment in human trials.

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