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1.
Access Microbiol ; 4(4): 000346, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1932004

ABSTRACT

Background: Australia's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic relies on widespread availability of rapid, accurate testing and reporting of results to facilitate contact tracing. The extensive geographical area of Australia presents a logistical challenge, with many of the population located distant from a laboratory capable of robust severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) detection. A strategy to address this is the deployment of a mobile facility utilizing novel diagnostic platforms. This study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of a fully contained transportable SARS-CoV-2 testing laboratory using a range of rapid point-of-care tests. Method: A 20 ft (6.1 m) shipping container was refurbished (GeneWorks, Adelaide, South Australia) with climate controls, laboratory benches, hand-wash station and a class II biosafety cabinet. Portable marquees situated adjacent to the container served as stations for registration, sample acquisition and personal protective equipment for staff. Specimens were collected and tested on-site utilizing either the Abbott ID NOW or Abbott Panbio rapid tests. SARS-CoV-2 positive results from the rapid platforms or any participants reporting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 were tested on-site by GeneXpert Xpress RT-PCR. All samples were tested in parallel with a standard-of-care RT-PCR test (Panther Fusion SARS-CoV-2 assay) performed at the public health reference laboratory. In-laboratory environmental conditions and data management-related factors were also recorded. Results: Over a 3 week period, 415 participants were recruited for point-of-care SARS-CoV-2 testing. From time of enrolment, the median result turnaround time was 26 min for the Abbott ID NOW, 32 min for the Abbott Panbio and 75 min for the Xpert Xpress. The environmental conditions of the refurbished shipping container were found to be suitable for all platforms tested, although humidity may have produced condensation within the container. Available software enabled turnaround times to be recorded, although technical malfunction resulted in incomplete data capture. Conclusion: Transportable container laboratories can enable rapid COVID-19 results at the point of care and may be useful during outbreak settings, particularly in environments that are physically distant from centralized laboratories. They may also be appropriate in resource-limited settings. The results of this pilot study confirm feasibility, although larger trials to validate individual rapid point-of-care testing platforms in this environment are required.

2.
Front Immunol ; 13: 832223, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1809390

ABSTRACT

Better methods to interrogate host-pathogen interactions during Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections are imperative to help understand and prevent this disease. Here we implemented RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) using Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) long-reads to measure differential host gene expression, transcript polyadenylation and isoform usage within various epithelial cell lines permissive and non-permissive for SARS-CoV-2 infection. SARS-CoV-2-infected and mock-infected Vero (African green monkey kidney epithelial cells), Calu-3 (human lung adenocarcinoma epithelial cells), Caco-2 (human colorectal adenocarcinoma epithelial cells) and A549 (human lung carcinoma epithelial cells) were analyzed over time (0, 2, 24, 48 hours). Differential polyadenylation was found to occur in both infected Calu-3 and Vero cells during a late time point (48 hpi), with Gene Ontology (GO) terms such as viral transcription and translation shown to be significantly enriched in Calu-3 data. Poly(A) tails showed increased lengths in the majority of the differentially polyadenylated transcripts in Calu-3 and Vero cell lines (up to ~101 nt in mean poly(A) length, padj = 0.029). Of these genes, ribosomal protein genes such as RPS4X and RPS6 also showed downregulation in expression levels, suggesting the importance of ribosomal protein genes during infection. Furthermore, differential transcript usage was identified in Caco-2, Calu-3 and Vero cells, including transcripts of genes such as GSDMB and KPNA2, which have previously been implicated in SARS-CoV-2 infections. Overall, these results highlight the potential role of differential polyadenylation and transcript usage in host immune response or viral manipulation of host mechanisms during infection, and therefore, showcase the value of long-read sequencing in identifying less-explored host responses to disease.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Animals , COVID-19/genetics , Caco-2 Cells , Chlorocebus aethiops , Humans , Polyadenylation , RNA, Messenger/metabolism , Ribosomal Proteins/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , Sequence Analysis, RNA , Vero Cells
3.
EBioMedicine ; 79: 103983, 2022 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1778093

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: High testing rates and rapid contact tracing have been key interventions to control COVID-19 in Victoria, Australia. A mobile laboratory (LabVan), for rapid SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics, was deployed at sites deemed critical by the Victorian State Department of Health as part of the response. We describe the process of design, implementation, and performance benchmarked against a central reference laboratory. METHODS: A BSL2 compliant laboratory, complete with a class II biological safety cabinet, was built within a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Panel Van. Swabs were collected by on-site collection teams, registered using mobile internet-enabled tablets and tested using the Xpert® Xpress SARS-CoV-2 assay. Results were reported remotely via HL7 messaging to Public Health Units. Patients with negative results were automatically notified by mobile telephone text messaging (SMS). FINDINGS: A pilot trial of the LabVan identified a median turnaround time (TAT) from collection to reporting of 1:19 h:mm (IQR 0:18, Range 1:03-18:32) compared to 9:40 h:mm (IQR 8:46, Range 6:51-19:30) for standard processing within the central laboratory. During deployment in nine rural and urban COVID-19 outbreaks the median TAT was 2:18 h:mm (IQR 1:18, Range 0:50-16:52) compared to 19:08 h:mm (IQR 5:49, Range 1:36-58:52) for samples submitted to the central laboratory. No quality control issues were identified in the LabVan. INTERPRETATION: The LabVan is an ISO15189 compliant testing facility fully operationalized for mobile point-of-care testing that significantly reduces TAT for result reporting, facilitating rapid public health actions. FUNDING: This work was supported by the Department of Health, Victoria State Government, Australia.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Australia , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19 Testing , Humans , Point-of-Care Testing , Sensitivity and Specificity
4.
Lancet Public Health ; 6(8): e547-e556, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1433979

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: A cornerstone of Australia's ability to control COVID-19 has been effective border control with an extensive supervised quarantine programme. However, a rapid recrudescence of COVID-19 was observed in the state of Victoria in June, 2020. We aim to describe the genomic findings that located the source of this second wave and show the role of genomic epidemiology in the successful elimination of COVID-19 for a second time in Australia. METHODS: In this observational, genomic epidemiological study, we did genomic sequencing of all laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Victoria, Australia between Jan 25, 2020, and Jan 31, 2021. We did phylogenetic analyses, genomic cluster discovery, and integrated results with epidemiological data (detailed information on demographics, risk factors, and exposure) collected via interview by the Victorian Government Department of Health. Genomic transmission networks were used to group multiple genomic clusters when epidemiological and genomic data suggested they arose from a single importation event and diversified within Victoria. To identify transmission of emergent lineages between Victoria and other states or territories in Australia, all publicly available SARS-CoV-2 sequences uploaded before Feb 11, 2021, were obtained from the national sequence sharing programme AusTrakka, and epidemiological data were obtained from the submitting laboratories. We did phylodynamic analyses to estimate the growth rate, doubling time, and number of days from the first local infection to the collection of the first sequenced genome for the dominant local cluster, and compared our growth estimates to previously published estimates from a similar growth phase of lineage B.1.1.7 (also known as the Alpha variant) in the UK. FINDINGS: Between Jan 25, 2020, and Jan 31, 2021, there were 20 451 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Victoria, Australia, of which 15 431 were submitted for sequencing, and 11 711 met all quality control metrics and were included in our analysis. We identified 595 genomic clusters, with a median of five cases per cluster (IQR 2-11). Overall, samples from 11 503 (98·2%) of 11 711 cases clustered with another sample in Victoria, either within a genomic cluster or transmission network. Genomic analysis revealed that 10 426 cases, including 10 416 (98·4%) of 10 584 locally acquired cases, diagnosed during the second wave (between June and October, 2020) were derived from a single incursion from hotel quarantine, with the outbreak lineage (transmission network G, lineage D.2) rapidly detected in other Australian states and territories. Phylodynamic analyses indicated that the epidemic growth rate of the outbreak lineage in Victoria during the initial growth phase (samples collected between June 4 and July 9, 2020; 47·4 putative transmission events, per branch, per year [1/years; 95% credible interval 26·0-85·0]), was similar to that of other reported variants, such as B.1.1.7 in the UK (mean approximately 71·5 1/years). Strict interventions were implemented, and the outbreak lineage has not been detected in Australia since Oct 29, 2020. Subsequent cases represented independent international or interstate introductions, with limited local spread. INTERPRETATION: Our study highlights how rapid escalation of clonal outbreaks can occur from a single incursion. However, strict quarantine measures and decisive public health responses to emergent cases are effective, even with high epidemic growth rates. Real-time genomic surveillance can alter the way in which public health agencies view and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks. FUNDING: The Victorian Government, the National Health and Medical Research Council Australia, and the Medical Research Future Fund.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/epidemiology , Epidemiologic Studies , Genomics , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Victoria/epidemiology
5.
ACS Biomater Sci Eng ; 7(10): 4982-4990, 2021 10 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1408219

ABSTRACT

The ability to detect SARS-CoV-2 is critical to implementing evidence-based strategies to address the COVID-19 global pandemic. Expanding SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic ability beyond well-equipped laboratories widens the opportunity for surveillance and control efforts. However, such advances are predicated on the availability of rapid, scalable, accessible, yet high-performance diagnostic platforms. Methods to detect viral RNA using reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) show promise as rapid and field-deployable tests; however, the per-unit costs of the required diagnostic hardware can be a barrier for scaled deployment. Here, we describe a diagnostic hardware configuration for LAMP technology, named the FABL-8, that can be built for approximately US$380 per machine and provide results in under 30 min. Benchmarking showed that FABL-8 has a similar performance to a high-end commercial instrument for detecting fluorescence-based LAMP reactions. Performance testing of the instrument with RNA extracted from a SARS-CoV-2 virus dilution series revealed an analytical detection sensitivity of 50 virus copies per microliter-a detection threshold suitable to detect patient viral load in the first few days following symptom onset. In addition to the detection of SARS-CoV-2, we show that the system can be used to detect the presence of two bacterial pathogens, demonstrating the versatility of the platform for the detection of other pathogens. This cost-effective and scalable hardware alternative allows democratization of the instrumentation required for high-performance molecular diagnostics, such that it could be available to laboratories anywhere-supporting infectious diseases surveillance and research activities in resource-limited settings.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , RNA, Viral , COVID-19/diagnosis , Humans , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA, Viral/isolation & purification , SARS-CoV-2
6.
ACS Biomater Sci Eng ; 7(9): 4669-4676, 2021 09 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1373347

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the dependence of diagnostic laboratories on a handful of large corporations with market monopolies on the worldwide supply of reagents, consumables, and hardware for molecular diagnostics. Global shortages of key consumables for RT-qPCR detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA have impaired the ability to run essential, routine diagnostic services. Here, we describe a workflow for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in upper respiratory samples including nasal swabs and saliva, utilizing low-cost equipment and readily accessible reagents. Using repurposed Creality3D Ender-3 three-dimensional (3D) printers, we built a semiautomated paramagnetic bead RNA extraction platform. The hardware for the system was built for $300 USD, and the material cost per reaction was $1 USD. Named the Ender VX500, instrument performance when paired with RT-qPCR for SARS-CoV-2 detection in nasal and saliva specimens was two virus copies per microliter. There was a high-performance agreement (assessed using 458 COVID-19 nasal swab specimens) with the Aptima SARS-CoV-2 assay run on the Hologic Panther, a commercial automated RNA extraction and detection platform. Inter- and intrainstrument precision was excellent (coefficients of variation (CoV) of 1.10 and 0.66-1.32%, respectively) across four instruments. The platform is scalable with throughput ranging from 23 specimens on a single instrument run by one user in 50 min to 364 specimens on four instruments run by four users in 190 min. Step-by-step instructions and protocols for building and running the Ender VX500 have been made available without restriction.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Humans , Pandemics , Pathology, Molecular , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2
8.
Cell Rep ; 35(6): 109108, 2021 05 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1202346

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) uses subgenomic RNA (sgRNA) to produce viral proteins for replication and immune evasion. We apply long-read RNA and cDNA sequencing to in vitro human and primate infection models to study transcriptional dynamics. Transcription-regulating sequence (TRS)-dependent sgRNA upregulates earlier in infection than TRS-independent sgRNA. An abundant class of TRS-independent sgRNA consisting of a portion of open reading frame 1ab (ORF1ab) containing nsp1 joins to ORF10, and the 3' untranslated region (UTR) upregulates at 48 h post-infection in human cell lines. We identify double-junction sgRNA containing both TRS-dependent and -independent junctions. We find multiple sites at which the SARS-CoV-2 genome is consistently more modified than sgRNA and that sgRNA modifications are stable across transcript clusters, host cells, and time since infection. Our work highlights the dynamic nature of the SARS-CoV-2 transcriptome during its replication cycle.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Transcription, Genetic/genetics , Animals , Caco-2 Cells , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Epigenesis, Genetic , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , Immune Evasion , Open Reading Frames , RNA, Viral/genetics , Transcriptome , Vero Cells , Viral Proteins/genetics
9.
Lancet Reg Health West Pac ; 9: 100115, 2021 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1117260

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In Australia, COVID-19 diagnosis relies on RT-PCR testing which is relatively costly and time-consuming. To date, few studies have assessed the performance and implementation of rapid antigen-based SARS-CoV-2 testing in a setting with a low prevalence of COVID-19 infections, such as Australia. METHODS: This study recruited participants presenting for COVID-19 testing at three Melbourne metropolitan hospitals during a period of low COVID-19 prevalence. The Abbott PanBioTM COVID-19 Ag point-of-care test was performed alongside RT-PCR. In addition, participants with COVID-19 notified to the Victorian Government were invited to provide additional swabs to aid validation. Implementation challenges were also documented. FINDINGS: The specificity of the Abbott PanBioTM COVID-19 Ag test was 99.96% (95% CI 99.73 - 100%). Sensitivity amongst participants with RT-PCR-confirmed infection was dependent upon the duration of symptoms reported, ranging from 77.3% (duration 1 to 33 days) to 100% in those within seven days of symptom onset. A range of implementation challenges were identified which may inform future COVID-19 testing strategies in a low prevalence setting. INTERPRETATION: Given the high specificity, antigen-based tests may be most useful in rapidly triaging public health and hospital resources while expediting confirmatory RT-PCR testing. Considering the limitations in test sensitivity and the potential for rapid transmission in susceptible populations, particularly in hospital settings, careful consideration is required for implementation of antigen testing in a low prevalence setting. FUNDING: This work was funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. The funder was not involved in data analysis or manuscript preparation.

11.
Nat Commun ; 11(1): 4376, 2020 09 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-740037

ABSTRACT

Genomic sequencing has significant potential to inform public health management for SARS-CoV-2. Here we report high-throughput genomics for SARS-CoV-2, sequencing 80% of cases in Victoria, Australia (population 6.24 million) between 6 January and 14 April 2020 (total 1,333 COVID-19 cases). We integrate epidemiological, genomic and phylodynamic data to identify clusters and impact of interventions. The global diversity of SARS-CoV-2 is represented, consistent with multiple importations. Seventy-six distinct genomic clusters were identified, including large clusters associated with social venues, healthcare and cruise ships. Sequencing sequential samples from 98 patients reveals minimal intra-patient SARS-CoV-2 genomic diversity. Phylodynamic modelling indicates a significant reduction in the effective viral reproductive number (Re) from 1.63 to 0.48 after implementing travel restrictions and physical distancing. Our data provide a concrete framework for the use of SARS-CoV-2 genomics in public health responses, including its use to rapidly identify SARS-CoV-2 transmission chains, increasingly important as social restrictions ease globally.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Adult , Australia/epidemiology , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Female , Genome, Viral , Genomics/methods , Health Personnel , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Molecular Epidemiology , Pandemics , Phylogeny , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , Public Health , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Travel
12.
J Med Microbiol ; 69(9): 1169-1178, 2020 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-696076

ABSTRACT

Introduction. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic of 2020 has resulted in unparalleled requirements for RNA extraction kits and enzymes required for virus detection, leading to global shortages. This has necessitated the exploration of alternative diagnostic options to alleviate supply chain issues.Aim. To establish and validate a reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT- LAMP) assay for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 from nasopharyngeal swabs.Methodology. We used a commercial RT-LAMP mastermix from OptiGene in combination with a primer set designed to detect the CDC N1 region of the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) gene. A single-tube, single-step fluorescence assay was implemented whereby 1 µl of universal transport medium (UTM) directly from a nasopharyngeal swab could be used as template, bypassing the requirement for RNA purification. Amplification and detection could be conducted in any thermocycler capable of holding 65 °C for 30 min and measure fluorescence in the FAM channel at 1 min intervals.Results. Assay evaluation by assessment of 157 clinical specimens previously screened by E-gene RT-qPCR revealed assay sensitivity and specificity of 87 and 100%, respectively. Results were fast, with an average time-to-positive (Tp) for 93 clinical samples of 14 min (sd±7 min). Using dilutions of SARS-CoV-2 virus spiked into UTM, we also evaluated assay performance against FDA guidelines for implementation of emergency-use diagnostics and established a limit-of-detection of 54 Tissue Culture Infectious Dose 50 per ml (TCID50 ml-1), with satisfactory assay sensitivity and specificity. A comparison of 20 clinical specimens between four laboratories showed excellent interlaboratory concordance; performing equally well on three different, commonly used thermocyclers, pointing to the robustness of the assay.Conclusion. With a simplified workflow, The N1 gene Single Tube Optigene LAMP assay (N1-STOP-LAMP) is a powerful, scalable option for specific and rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 and an additional resource in the diagnostic armamentarium against COVID-19.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/methods , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , COVID-19 Testing , COVID-19 Vaccines , Clinical Laboratory Techniques , Humans , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/methods , Nasopharynx/virology , Pandemics , RNA, Viral , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , Reverse Transcription , SARS-CoV-2 , Sensitivity and Specificity
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