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1.
EuropePMC;
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-327455

ABSTRACT

Background T cell responses to SARS-CoV-2 following infection and vaccination are less characterised than antibody responses, due to a more complex experimental pathway. Methods We measured T cell responses in 108 healthcare workers (HCWs) in an observational cohort study, using the commercialised Oxford Immunotec T-SPOT Discovery SARS-CoV-2 assay (OI T-SPOT) and the PITCH ELISpot protocol established for academic research settings. Results Both assays detected T cell responses to SARS-CoV-2 spike, membrane and nucleocapsid proteins. Responses were significantly lower when reported by OI T-SPOT than by PITCH ELISpot. Four weeks after two doses of either Pfizer/BioNTech BNT162b or ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 AZD1222 vaccine, the responder rate was 63% for OI T-SPOT Panels1+2 (peptides representing SARS-CoV-2 spike protein excluding regions present in seasonal coronaviruses), 69% for OI T-SPOT Panel 14 (peptides representing the entire SARS-CoV-2 spike), and 94% for the PITCH ELISpot assay. The two OI T-SPOT panels correlated strongly with each other showing that either readout quantifies spike-specific T cell responses, although the correlation between the OI T-SPOT panels and the PITCH ELISpot was moderate. Conclusion The standardisation, relative scalability and longer interval between blood acquisition and processing are advantages of the commercial OI T-SPOT assay. However, the OI T-SPOT assay measures T cell responses at a significantly lower magnitude compared to the PITCH ELISpot assay, detecting T cell responses in a lower proportion of vaccinees. This has implications for the reporting of low-level T cell responses that may be observed in patient populations and for the assessment of T cell durability after vaccination.

2.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-322827

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is normally controlled by effective host immunity including innate, humoral and cellular responses. However, the trajectories and correlates of acquired immunity, and the capacity of memory responses months after infection to neutralise variants of concern - which has important public health implications - is not fully understood. To address this, we studied a cohort of 78 UK healthcare workers who presented in April to June 2020 with symptomatic PCR-confirmed infection or who tested positive during an asymptomatic screening programme and tracked virus-specific B and T cell responses longitudinally at 5-6 time points each over 6 months, prior to vaccination. We observed a highly variable range of responses, some of which - T cell interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) ELISpot, N-specific antibody waned over time across the cohort, while others (spike-specific antibody, B cell memory ELISpot) were stable. In such cohorts, antiviral antibody has been linked to protection against re-infection. We used integrative analysis and a machine-learning approach (SIMON - Sequential Iterative Modeling Over Night) to explore this heterogeneity and to identify predictors of sustained immune responses. Hierarchical clustering defined a group of high and low antibody responders, which showed stability over time regardless of clinical presentation. These antibody responses correlated with IFN-γ ELISpot measures of T cell immunity and represent a subgroup of patients with a robust trajectory for longer term immunity. Importantly, this immune-phenotype associates with higher levels of neutralising antibodies not only against the infecting (Victoria) strain but also against variants B.1.1.7 (alpha) and B.1.351 (beta). Overall memory responses to SARS-CoV-2 show distinct trajectories following early priming, that may define subsequent protection against infection and severe disease from novel variants.

3.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-321742

ABSTRACT

Both natural infection with SARS-CoV-2 and immunization with a number of vaccines induce protective immunity. However, the ability of such immune responses to recognize and therefore protect against emerging variants is a matter of increasing importance. Such variants of concern (VOC) include isolates of lineage B1.1.7, first identified in the UK, and B1.351, first identified in South Africa. Our data confirm that VOC, particularly those with substitutions at residues 484 and 417 escape neutralization by antibodies directed to the ACE2-binding Class 1 and the adjacent Class 2 epitopes but are susceptible to neutralization by the generally less potent antibodies directed to Class 3 and 4 epitopes on the flanks RBD. To address this potential threat, we sampled a SARS-CoV-2 uninfected UK cohort recently vaccinated with BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech, two doses delivered 18-28 days apart), alongside a cohort naturally infected in the first wave of the epidemic in Spring 2020. We tested antibody and T cell responses against a reference isolate (VIC001) representing the original circulating lineage B and the impact of sequence variation in these two VOCs. We identified a reduction in antibody neutralization against the VOCs which was most evident in the B1.351 variant. However, the majority of the T cell response was directed against epitopes conserved across all three strains. The reduction in antibody neutralization was less marked in post-boost vaccine-induced than in naturally-induced immune responses and could be largely explained by the potency of the homotypic antibody response. However, after a single vaccination, which induced only modestly neutralizing homotypic antibody titres, neutralization against the VOCs was completely abrogated in the majority of vaccinees. These data indicate that VOCs may evade protective neutralising responses induced by prior infection, and to a lesser extent by immunization, particularly after a single vaccine, but the impact of the VOCs on T cell responses appears less marked. The results emphasize the need to generate high potency immune responses through vaccination in order to provide protection against these and other emergent variants. We observed that two doses of vaccine also induced a significant increase in binding antibodies to spike of both SARS-CoV-1 & MERS, in addition to the four common coronaviruses currently circulating in the UK. The impact of antigenic imprinting on the potency of humoral and cellular heterotypic protection generated by the next generation of variant-directed vaccines remains to be determined.

4.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-321741

ABSTRACT

Both natural infection with SARS-CoV-2 and immunization with vaccines induce protective immunity. However, the extent to which such immune responses protect against emerging variants is of increasing importance. Such variants of concern (VOC) include isolates of lineage B.1.1.7, first identified in the UK, and B.1.351, first identified in South Africa. Our data confirm that VOC, particularly those with substitutions at residues 484 and 417, escape neutralization by antibodies directed to the ACE2-binding Class 1 and the adjacent Class 2 epitopes but are susceptible to neutralization by the generally less potent antibodies directed to Class 3 and 4 epitopes on the flanks of the receptor-binding domain. To address the potential threat posed by VOC, we sampled a SARS-CoV-2 uninfected UK cohort recently vaccinated with BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech, two doses delivered 18-28 days apart), alongside a cohort sampled in the early convalescent stages after natural infection in the first wave of the pandemic in Spring 2020. We tested antibody and T cell responses against a reference isolate of the original circulating lineage, B, and the impact of sequence variation in the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 VOC. Neutralization of the VOC compared to B isolate was reduced, and this was most evident for the B.1.351 isolate. This reduction in antibody neutralization was less marked in post-boost vaccine-induced responses compared to naturally induced immune responses and could be largely explained by the potency of the homotypic antibody response. After a single vaccination, which induced only modestly neutralizing homotypic antibody titres, neutralization against the VOC was completely abrogated in the majority of vaccinees. Importantly, high magnitude T cell responses were generated after two vaccine doses, with the majority of the T cell response directed against epitopes that are conserved between the prototype isolate B and the VOC. These data indicate that VOC may evade protective neutralizing responses induced by prior infection, and to a lesser extent by immunization, particularly after a single vaccine dose, but the impact of the VOC on T cell responses appears less marked. The results emphasize the need to generate high potency immune responses through vaccination in order to provide protection against these and other emergent variants.

5.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-318857

ABSTRACT

Extension of the interval between vaccine doses for the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine was introduced in the UK to accelerate population coverage with a single dose. In a study of 503 healthcare workers, we show that after priming following the first vaccine there is a marked decline in SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody (NAb) levels, but, in contrast, a sustained T cell response to spike protein. This divergent immune profile was accompanied by robust protection from infection over this period from the circulating alpha (B.1.1.7) variant. Importantly, following the second vaccine dose, NAb levels were higher after the extended dosing interval (6-14 weeks) compared to the conventional 3-4 week regimen, accompanied by a clear enrichment of CD4+ T cells expressing IL2. These data on dynamic cellular and humoral responses indicate that extension of the dosing interval is an effective, immunogenic protocol and that antiviral T cell responses are a potential mechanism of protection.Trial Registration Details: PITCH is a sub-study of the SIREN study which is registered with ISRCTN, number ISRCTN11041050,Funding Information: This work was funded by the UK Department of Health and Social Care as part of the PITCH (Protective Immunity from T cells to Covid-19 in Health workers) Consortium, with contributions from UKRI/NIHR through the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium (UK-CIC), the Huo Family Foundation and The National Institute for Health Research (UKRIDHSC COVID-19 Rapid Response Rolling Call, Grant Reference Number COV19-RECPLAS).EB and PK are NIHR Senior Investigators and PK is funded by WT109965MA. SJD is funded by an NIHR Global Research Professorship (NIHR300791). TdS is funded by a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellowship (110058/Z/15/Z). RPP is funded by a Career Re-entry Fellowship (204721/Z/16/Z). CJAD is funded by a Wellcome Clinical Research Career Development Fellowship (211153/Z/18/Z). DS is supported by the NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer programme in Oxford. LT is supported by the Wellcome Trust (grant number 205228/Z/16/Z) and the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections (NIHR200907) at University of Liverpool in partnership with Public Health England (PHE), in collaboration with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the University of Oxford. DGW is supported by an NIHR Advanced Fellowship in Liverpool. LT and MC are supported by U.S. Food and Drug Administration Medical Countermeasures Initiative contract 75F40120C00085. Declaration of Interests: AJP is Chair of UK Dept. Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) Joint Committee on Vaccination & Immunisation (JCVI), but does not participate in policy decisions on COVID-19 vaccines. He is a member of the WHO’s SAGE. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of DHSC, JCVI, or WHO. AJP is chief investigator on clinical trials of Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine funded by NIHR. Oxford University has entered a joint COVID-19 vaccine development partnership with AstraZeneca. Ethics Approval Statement: PITCH is a sub-study of the SIREN study which was approved by the Berkshire Research Ethics Committee, Health Research 250 Authority (IRAS ID 284460, REC reference 20/SC/0230), with PITCH recognised as a sub-study on 2 December 2020. SIREN is registered with ISRCTN (Trial ID:252 ISRCTN11041050). Some participants were recruited under aligned study protocols. In Birmingham participants were recruited under the Determining the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection in convalescent health care workers (COCO) study (IRAS ID: 282525). In Liverpool some participants were recruited under the “Human immune responses to acute virus infections” Study (16/NW/0170), approved by North West - Liverpool Central Research Ethics Committee on 8 March 2016, and amended on 14th September 2020 and 4th May 2021. In Oxford, participants were recruited under the GI Biobank Study 16/YH/0247, approved by the research ethics committee (REC) t Yorkshire & The Humber - Sheffield Research Ethics Committee on 29 July 2016, which has been amended for this purpose on 8 June 2020. In Sheffield, participants were recruited under the Observational Biobanking study STHObs (18/YH/0441), which was amended for this study on 10 September 2020. The study was conducted in compliance with all relevant ethical regulations for work with human participants, and according to the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki (2008) and the International Conference on Harmonization (ICH) Good Clinical Practice (GCP) guidelines. Written informed consent was obtained for all patients enrolled in the study.

6.
Cell ; 184(23): 5699-5714.e11, 2021 11 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1466093

ABSTRACT

Extension of the interval between vaccine doses for the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine was introduced in the United Kingdom to accelerate population coverage with a single dose. At this time, trial data were lacking, and we addressed this in a study of United Kingdom healthcare workers. The first vaccine dose induced protection from infection from the circulating alpha (B.1.1.7) variant over several weeks. In a substudy of 589 individuals, we show that this single dose induces severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) neutralizing antibody (NAb) responses and a sustained B and T cell response to the spike protein. NAb levels were higher after the extended dosing interval (6-14 weeks) compared with the conventional 3- to 4-week regimen, accompanied by enrichment of CD4+ T cells expressing interleukin-2 (IL-2). Prior SARS-CoV-2 infection amplified and accelerated the response. These data on dynamic cellular and humoral responses indicate that extension of the dosing interval is an effective immunogenic protocol.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Vaccines, Synthetic/immunology , Adult , Aged , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Cross-Priming/immunology , Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic , Female , Humans , Immunity , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Linear Models , Male , Middle Aged , Reference Standards , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology , Treatment Outcome , Young Adult
7.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 5061, 2021 08 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1361634

ABSTRACT

The extent to which immune responses to natural infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and immunization with vaccines protect against variants of concern (VOC) is of increasing importance. Accordingly, here we analyse antibodies and T cells of a recently vaccinated, UK cohort, alongside those recovering from natural infection in early 2020. We show that neutralization of the VOC compared to a reference isolate of the original circulating lineage, B, is reduced: more profoundly against B.1.351 than for B.1.1.7, and in responses to infection or a single dose of vaccine than to a second dose of vaccine. Importantly, high magnitude T cell responses are generated after two vaccine doses, with the majority of the T cell response directed against epitopes that are conserved between the prototype isolate B and the VOC. Vaccination is required to generate high potency immune responses to protect against these and other emergent variants.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Monoclonal/blood , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/isolation & purification , Antibodies, Neutralizing/metabolism , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Carrier Proteins , Epitopes , Humans , Immunity , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , T-Lymphocytes/immunology
8.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 2055, 2021 04 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1171493

ABSTRACT

Identification of protective T cell responses against SARS-CoV-2 requires distinguishing people infected with SARS-CoV-2 from those with cross-reactive immunity to other coronaviruses. Here we show a range of T cell assays that differentially capture immune function to characterise SARS-CoV-2 responses. Strong ex vivo ELISpot and proliferation responses to multiple antigens (including M, NP and ORF3) are found in 168 PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infected volunteers, but are rare in 119 uninfected volunteers. Highly exposed seronegative healthcare workers with recent COVID-19-compatible illness show T cell response patterns characteristic of infection. By contrast, >90% of convalescent or unexposed people show proliferation and cellular lactate responses to spike subunits S1/S2, indicating pre-existing cross-reactive T cell populations. The detection of T cell responses to SARS-CoV-2 is therefore critically dependent on assay and antigen selection. Memory responses to specific non-spike proteins provide a method to distinguish recent infection from pre-existing immunity in exposed populations.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Cross Reactions/immunology , Immunoassay/methods , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cell Proliferation , Cytokines/metabolism , HEK293 Cells , Health Personnel , Humans , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Immunologic Memory , Interferon-gamma/metabolism , Pandemics , Peptides/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects
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