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1.
Cell Rep ; 37(13): 110169, 2021 12 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1616407

ABSTRACT

The importance of pre-existing immune responses to seasonal endemic coronaviruses (HCoVs) for the susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection and the course of COVID-19 is the subject of an ongoing scientific debate. Recent studies postulate that immune responses to previous HCoV infections can either have a slightly protective or no effect on SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis and, consequently, be neglected for COVID-19 risk stratification. Challenging this notion, we provide evidence that pre-existing, anti-nucleocapsid antibodies against endemic α-coronaviruses and S2 domain-specific anti-spike antibodies against ß-coronavirus HCoV-OC43 are elevated in patients with COVID-19 compared to pre-pandemic donors. This finding is particularly pronounced in males and in critically ill patients. Longitudinal evaluation reveals that antibody cross-reactivity or polyclonal stimulation by SARS-CoV-2 infection are unlikely to be confounders. Thus, specific pre-existing immunity to seasonal coronaviruses may increase susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 and predispose individuals to an adverse COVID-19 outcome, guiding risk management and supporting the development of universal coronavirus vaccines.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Coronavirus/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , Antibodies/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/etiology , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Coronavirus OC43, Human/immunology , Coronavirus OC43, Human/pathogenicity , Cross Reactions/immunology , Female , Germany , Humans , Immunity, Humoral/immunology , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Longitudinal Studies , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Seasons , Severity of Illness Index , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
2.
Cell reports ; 2021.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1565013

ABSTRACT

Wratil et al. find specific antibody responses against seasonal human coronaviruses, which cause the common cold, to be elevated in patients with COVID-19 compared to pre-pandemic blood donors. This specific immunity is likely pre-existing in patients and increases their susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 and severity of COVID-19.

3.
Euro Surveill ; 26(43)2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1547185

ABSTRACT

BackgroundIn the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, viral genomes are available at unprecedented speed, but spatio-temporal bias in genome sequence sampling precludes phylogeographical inference without additional contextual data.AimWe applied genomic epidemiology to trace SARS-CoV-2 spread on an international, national and local level, to illustrate how transmission chains can be resolved to the level of a single event and single person using integrated sequence data and spatio-temporal metadata.MethodsWe investigated 289 COVID-19 cases at a university hospital in Munich, Germany, between 29 February and 27 May 2020. Using the ARTIC protocol, we obtained near full-length viral genomes from 174 SARS-CoV-2-positive respiratory samples. Phylogenetic analyses using the Auspice software were employed in combination with anamnestic reporting of travel history, interpersonal interactions and perceived high-risk exposures among patients and healthcare workers to characterise cluster outbreaks and establish likely scenarios and timelines of transmission.ResultsWe identified multiple independent introductions in the Munich Metropolitan Region during the first weeks of the first pandemic wave, mainly by travellers returning from popular skiing areas in the Alps. In these early weeks, the rate of presumable hospital-acquired infections among patients and in particular healthcare workers was high (9.6% and 54%, respectively) and we illustrated how transmission chains can be dissected at high resolution combining virus sequences and spatio-temporal networks of human interactions.ConclusionsEarly spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Europe was catalysed by superspreading events and regional hotspots during the winter holiday season. Genomic epidemiology can be employed to trace viral spread and inform effective containment strategies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Cross Infection , Cross Infection/epidemiology , Genome, Viral , Genomics , Germany/epidemiology , Hospitals , Humans , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2
4.
Clin Infect Dis ; 73(9): e3055-e3065, 2021 11 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1501051

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: High infection rates among healthcare personnel in an uncontained pandemic can paralyze health systems due to staff shortages. Risk constellations and rates of seroconversion for healthcare workers (HCWs) during the first wave of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic are still largely unclear. METHODS: Healthcare personnel (n = 300) on different organizational units in the LMU Munich University Hospital were included and followed in this prospective longitudinal study from 24 March until 7 July 2020. Participants were monitored in intervals of 2 to 6 weeks using different antibody assays for serological testing and questionnaires to evaluate risk contacts. In a subgroup of infected participants, we obtained nasopharyngeal swabs to perform whole-genome sequencing for outbreak characterization. RESULTS: HCWs involved in patient care on dedicated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) wards or on regular non-COVID-19 wards showed a higher rate of SARS-CoV-2 seroconversion than staff in the emergency department and non-frontline personnel. The landscape of risk contacts in these units was dynamic, with a decrease in unprotected risk contacts in the emergency department and an increase on non-COVID-19 wards. Both intensity and number of risk contacts were associated with higher rates of seroconversion. On regular wards, staff infections tended to occur in clusters, while infections on COVID-19 wards were less frequent and apparently independent of each other. CONCLUSIONS: Risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection for frontline HCWs was increased during the first pandemic wave in southern Germany. Stringent measures for infection control are essential to protect all patient-facing staff during the ongoing pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Germany/epidemiology , Health Personnel , Hospitals, University , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , Pandemics , Prospective Studies
5.
Infection ; 2021 Aug 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1351389

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: To determine risk factors for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in healthcare workers (HCWs), characterize symptoms, and evaluate preventive measures against SARS-CoV-2 spread in hospitals. METHODS: In a cross-sectional study conducted between May 27 and August 12, 2020, after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, we obtained serological, epidemiological, occupational as well as COVID-19-related data at a quaternary care, multicenter hospital in Munich, Germany. RESULTS: 7554 HCWs participated, 2.2% of whom tested positive for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Multivariate analysis revealed increased COVID-19 risk for nurses (3.1% seropositivity, 95% CI 2.5-3.9%, p = 0.012), staff working on COVID-19 units (4.6% seropositivity, 95% CI 3.2-6.5%, p = 0.032), males (2.4% seropositivity, 95% CI 1.8-3.2%, p = 0.019), and HCWs reporting high-risk exposures to infected patients (5.5% seropositivity, 95% CI 4.0-7.5%, p = 0.0022) or outside of work (12.0% seropositivity, 95% CI 8.0-17.4%, p < 0.0001). Smoking was a protective factor (1.1% seropositivity, 95% CI 0.7-1.8% p = 0.00018) and the symptom taste disorder was strongly associated with COVID-19 (29.8% seropositivity, 95% CI 24.3-35.8%, p < 0.0001). An unbiased decision tree identified subgroups with different risk profiles. Working from home as a preventive measure did not protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection. A PCR-testing strategy focused on symptoms and high-risk exposures detected all larger COVID-19 outbreaks. CONCLUSION: Awareness of the identified COVID-19 risk factors and successful surveillance strategies are key to protecting HCWs against SARS-CoV-2, especially in settings with limited vaccination capacities or reduced vaccine efficacy.

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