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1.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-22278739

ABSTRACT

BackgroundCOVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2, is one of the deadliest pandemics over the last 100 years. Sequencing is playing an important role in monitoring the evolution of the virus, including the detection of new viral variants. This study describes the genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 infections in The Gambia. MethodsNasopharyngeal and/or oropharyngeal swabs collected from suspected cases and travellers were tested for SARS-CoV-2 using standard RT-PCR methods. SARS-CoV-2 positive samples were sequenced following standard library preparation and sequencing protocols. Bioinformatic analysis was done using ARTIC pipelines and lineages assigned using Pangolin. FindingsBetween March 2020 to January 2022, there were almost 12,000 SARS-CoV-2 confirmed cases distributed into four waves, each of them lasting between 4 weeks and 4 months, with more cases during the rainy seasons (July-October). As shown by the 1643 sequenced samples, each wave occurred after new viral variants and/or lineages were introduced in The Gambia, generally those already established in Europe and/or in other African countries. Local transmission was higher during the first and third wave, with mostly B.1.416/Senegal/Gambian lineage and AY.34.1/Delta subtype, respectively. The second wave was driven by two variants, namely Alpha and Eta and B.1.1.420 lineage. The Omicron/fourth wave was the shortest. InterpretationEfficient surveillance, including strengthening entry points and screening asymptomatic individuals especially during the rainy seasons would be important to promptly detect and control future waves in The Gambia and the subregion. FundingMedical Research Unit The Gambia at LSHTM, UK Research and Innovation funding (grant reference MC_PC_19084), MRC/UKRI MC_PC_19084 and World Health Organisation.

2.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-22279759

ABSTRACT

BackgroundMost studies of immunity to SARS-CoV-2 focus on circulating antibody, giving limited insights into mucosal defences that prevent viral replication and onward transmission. We studied nasal and plasma antibody responses one year after hospitalisation for COVID-19, including a period when SARS-CoV-2 vaccination was introduced. MethodsPlasma and nasosorption samples were prospectively collected from 446 adults hospitalised for COVID-19 between February 2020 and March 2021 via the ISARIC4C and PHOSP-COVID consortia. IgA and IgG responses to NP and S of ancestral SARS-CoV-2, Delta and Omicron (BA.1) variants were measured by electrochemiluminescence and compared with plasma neutralisation data. FindingsStrong and consistent nasal anti-NP and anti-S IgA responses were demonstrated, which remained elevated for nine months. Nasal and plasma anti-S IgG remained elevated for at least 12 months with high plasma neutralising titres against all variants. Of 180 with complete data, 160 were vaccinated between 6 and 12 months; coinciding with rises in nasal and plasma IgA and IgG anti-S titres for all SARS-CoV-2 variants, although the change in nasal IgA was minimal. Samples 12 months after admission showed no association between nasal IgA and plasma IgG responses, indicating that nasal IgA responses are distinct from those in plasma and minimally boosted by vaccination. InterpretationThe decline in nasal IgA responses 9 months after infection and minimal impact of subsequent vaccination may explain the lack of long-lasting nasal defence against reinfection and the limited effects of vaccination on transmission. These findings highlight the need to develop vaccines that enhance nasal immunity. Research in contextO_ST_ABSEvidence before the studyC_ST_ABSWhile systemic immunity to SARS-CoV-2 is important in preventing severe disease, mucosal immunity prevents viral replication at the point of entry and reduces onward transmission. We searched PubMed with search terms "mucosal", "nasal", "antibody", "IgA", "COVID-19", "SARS-CoV-2", "convalescent" and "vaccination" for studies published in English before 20th July 2022, identifying three previous studies examining the durability of nasal responses that generally show nasal antibody to persist for 3 to 9 months. However, these studies were small or included individuals with mild COVID-19. One study of 107 care-home residents demonstrated increased salivary IgG (but not IgA) after two doses of mRNA vaccine, and another examined nasal antibody responses after infection and subsequent vaccination in 20 cases, demonstrating rises in both nasal IgA and IgG 7 to 10 days after vaccination. Added value of this studyStudying 446 people hospitalised for COVID-19, we show durable nasal and plasma IgG responses to ancestral (B.1 lineage) SARS-CoV-2, Delta and Omicron (BA.1) variants up to 12 months after infection. Nasal antibody induced by infection with pre-Omicron variants, bind Omicron virus in vitro better than plasma antibody. Although nasal and plasma IgG responses were enhanced by vaccination, Omicron binding responses did not reach levels equivalent to responses for ancestral SARS-CoV-2. Using paired plasma and nasal samples collected approximately 12 months after infection, we show that nasal IgA declines and shows a minimal response to vaccination whilst plasma antibody responses to S antigen are well maintained and boosted by vaccination. Implications of all the available evidenceAfter COVID-19 and subsequent vaccination, Omicron binding plasma and nasal antibody responses are only moderately enhanced, supporting the need for booster vaccinations to maintain immunity against SARS-CoV-2 variants. Notably, there is distinct compartmentalisation between nasal IgA and plasma IgA and IgG responses after vaccination. These findings highlight the need for vaccines that induce robust and durable mucosal immunity.

3.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-22278576

ABSTRACT

BackgroundImmunocompromised patients may be at higher risk of mortality if hospitalised with COVID-19 compared with immunocompetent patients. However, previous studies have been contradictory. We aimed to determine whether immunocompromised patients were at greater risk of in-hospital death, and how this risk changed over the pandemic. MethodsWe included patients >=19yrs with symptomatic community-acquired COVID-19 recruited to the ISARIC WHO Clinical Characterisation Protocol UK. We defined immunocompromise as: immunosuppressant medication preadmission, cancer treatment, organ transplant, HIV, or congenital immunodeficiency. We used logistic regression to compare the risk of death in both groups, adjusting for age, sex, deprivation, ethnicity, vaccination and co-morbidities. We used Bayesian logistic regression to explore mortality over time. FindingsBetween 17/01/2020 and 28/02/2022 we recruited 156,552 eligible patients, of whom 21,954 (14%) were immunocompromised. 29% (n=6,499) of immunocompromised and 21% (n=28,608) of immunocompetent patients died in hospital. The odds of in-hospital mortality were elevated for immunocompromised patients (adjOR 1.44, 95% CI 1.39-1.50, p<0.001). As the pandemic progressed, in-hospital mortality reduced more slowly for immunocompromised patients than for immunocompetent patients. This was particularly evident with increasing age: the probability of the reduction in hospital mortality being less for immunocompromised patients aged 50-69yrs was 88% for men and 83% for women, and for those >80yrs was 99% for men, and 98% for women. ConclusionsImmunocompromised patients remain at elevated risk of death from COVID-19. Targeted measures such as additional vaccine doses and monoclonal antibodies should be considered for this group. FundingNational Institute for Health Research; Medical Research Council; Chief Scientist Office, Scotland.

4.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-22275865

ABSTRACT

Both infection and vaccination, alone or in combination, generate antibody and T cell responses against SARS-CoV-2. However, the maintenance of such responses - and hence protection from disease - requires careful characterisation. In a large prospective study of UK healthcare workers (Protective immunity from T cells in Healthcare workers (PITCH), within the larger SARS-CoV-2 immunity & reinfection evaluation (SIREN) study) we previously observed that prior infection impacted strongly on subsequent cellular and humoral immunity induced after long and short dosing intervals of BNT162b2 (Pfizer/BioNTech) vaccination. Here, we report longer follow up of 684 HCWs in this cohort over 6-9 months following two doses of BNT162b2 or AZD1222 (Oxford/AstraZeneca) vaccination and following a subsequent BNT162b2 booster vaccination. We make three observations: Firstly, the dynamics of humoral and cellular responses differ; binding and neutralising antibodies declined whereas T and memory B cell responses were maintained after the second vaccine dose. Secondly, vaccine boosting restored IgG levels, broadened neutralising activity against variants of concern including omicron BA.1, and further boosted T cell responses. Thirdly, prior infection maintained its impact driving larger as well as broader T cell responses compared to never-infected people - a feature maintained even after the third dose. In conclusion, broadly cross-reactive T cell responses are well maintained over time - especially in those with "hybrid" vaccine and infection-induced immunity - and may contribute to continued protection against severe disease.

5.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-22270799

ABSTRACT

IntroductionViral sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 has been used for outbreak investigation, but there is limited evidence supporting routine use for infection prevention and control (IPC) within hospital settings. MethodsWe conducted a prospective non-randomised trial of sequencing at 14 acute UK hospital trusts. Sites each had a 4-week baseline data-collection period, followed by intervention periods comprising 8 weeks of rapid (<48h) and 4 weeks of longer-turnaround (5-10 day) sequencing using a sequence reporting tool (SRT). Data were collected on all hospital onset COVID-19 infections (HOCIs; detected [≥]48h from admission). The impact of the sequencing intervention on IPC knowledge and actions, and on incidence of probable/definite hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) was evaluated. ResultsA total of 2170 HOCI cases were recorded from October 2020-April 2021, with sequence reports returned for 650/1320 (49.2%) during intervention phases. We did not detect a statistically significant change in weekly incidence of HAIs in longer-turnaround (IRR 1.60, 95%CI 0.85-3.01; P=0.14) or rapid (0.85, 0.48-1.50; P=0.54) intervention phases compared to baseline phase. However, IPC practice was changed in 7.8% and 7.4% of all HOCI cases in rapid and longer-turnaround phases, respectively, and 17.2% and 11.6% of cases where the report was returned. In a per-protocol sensitivity analysis there was an impact on IPC actions in 20.7% of HOCI cases when the SRT report was returned within 5 days. ConclusionWhile we did not demonstrate a direct impact of sequencing on the incidence of nosocomial transmission, our results suggest that sequencing can inform IPC response to HOCIs, particularly when returned within 5 days.

6.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21264873

ABSTRACT

The strong humoral immune response produced against the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) and spike (S) proteins has underpinned serological testing but the prevalence of antibody responses to other SARS-CoV-2 proteins, which may be of use as further serological markers, is still unclear. Cell-based serological screening platforms can fulfil a crucial niche in the identification of antibodies which recognise more complex folded epitopes or those incorporating post-translation modifications which may be undetectable by other methods used to investigate the antigenicity of the SARS-CoV-2 proteome. Here, we employed automated high content immunofluorescence microscopy (AHCIM) to assess the viability of such an approach as a method capable of assaying humoral immune responses against full length SARS-CoV-2 proteins in their native cellular state. We first demonstrate that AHCIM provides high sensitivity and specificity in the detection of SARS-CoV-2 N and S IgG. Assessing the prevalence of antibody responses to the SARS-CoV-2 structural membrane protein (M), we further find that 85% of COVID-19 patients within our sample set developed detectable M IgG responses (M sensitivity 85%, N sensitivity 93%, combined N + M sensitivity 95%). The identification of M as a serological marker of high prevalence may be of value in detecting additional COVID-19 cases during the era of mass SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations, where serological screening for SARS CoV-2 infections in vaccinated individuals is dependent on detection of antibodies against N. These findings highlight the advantages of using cell-based systems as serological screening platforms and raise the possibility of using M as a widespread serological marker alongside N and S.

7.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21260537

ABSTRACT

Structured abstractO_ST_ABSObjectivesC_ST_ABSTo characterise within-hospital SARS-CoV-2 transmission across two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. DesignA retrospective Bayesian modelling study to reconstruct transmission chains amongst 2181 patients and healthcare workers using combined viral genomic and epidemiological data. SettingA large UK NHS Trust with over 1400 beds and employing approximately 17,000 staff. Participants780 patients and 522 staff testing SARS-CoV-2 positive between 1st March 2020 and 25th July 2020 (Wave 1); and 580 patients and 299 staff testing SARS-CoV-2 positive between 30th November 2020 and 24th January 2021 (Wave 2). Main outcome measuresTransmission pairs including who-infected-whom; location of transmission events in hospital; number of secondary cases from each individual, including differences in onward transmission from community and hospital onset patient cases. ResultsStaff-to-staff transmission was estimated to be the most frequent transmission type during Wave 1 (31.6% of observed hospital-acquired infections; 95% CI 26.9 to 35.8%), decreasing to 12.9% (95% CI 9.5 to 15.9%) in Wave 2. Patient-to-patient transmissions increased from 27.1% in Wave 1 (95% CI 23.3 to 31.4%) to 52.1% (95% CI 48.0 to 57.1%) in Wave 2, to become the predominant transmission type. Over 50% of hospital-acquired infections were concentrated in 8/120 locations in Wave 1 and 10/93 locations in Wave 2. Approximately 40% to 50% of hospital-onset patient cases resulted in onward transmission compared to less than 4% of definite community-acquired cases. ConclusionsPrevention and control measures that evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic may have had a significant impact on reducing infections between healthcare workers, but were insufficient during the second wave to prevent a high number of patient-to-patient transmissions. As hospital-acquired cases appeared to drive most onward transmissions, more frequent and rapid identification and isolation of these cases will be required to break hospital transmission chains in subsequent pandemic waves.

8.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21260151

ABSTRACT

BackgroundWe aimed to measure SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in a cohort of healthcare workers (HCWs) during the first UK wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, explore risk factors associated with infection, and investigate the impact of antibody titres on assay sensitivity. MethodsHCWs at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (STH) were prospectively enrolled and sampled at two time points. SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were tested using an in-house assay for IgG and IgA reactivity against Spike and Nucleoprotein (sensitivity 99{middle dot}47%, specificity 99{middle dot}56%). Data were analysed using three statistical models: a seroprevalence model, an antibody kinetics model, and a heterogeneous sensitivity model. FindingsAs of 12th June 2020, 24{middle dot}4% (n=311/1275) HCWs were seropositive. Of these, 39{middle dot}2% (n=122/311) were asymptomatic. The highest adjusted seroprevalence was measured in HCWs on the Acute Medical Unit (41{middle dot}1%, 95% CrI 30{middle dot}0-52{middle dot}9) and in Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists (39{middle dot}2%, 95% CrI 24{middle dot}4-56{middle dot}5). Older age groups showed overall higher median antibody titres. Further modelling suggests that, for a serological assay with an overall sensitivity of 80%, antibody titres may be markedly affected by differences in age, with sensitivity estimates of 89% in those over 60 years but 61% in those [≤]30 years. InterpretationHCWs in acute medical units working closely with COVID-19 patients were at highest risk of infection, though whether these are infections acquired from patients or other staff is unknown. Current serological assays may underestimate seroprevalence in younger age groups if validated using sera from older and/or more symptomatic individuals. Research in contextO_ST_ABSEvidence before this studyC_ST_ABSWe searched PubMed for studies published up to March 6th 2021, using the terms "COVID", "SARS-CoV-2", "seroprevalence", and "healthcare workers", and in addition for articles of antibody titres in different age groups against coronaviruses using "coronavirus", "SARS-CoV-2, "antibody", "antibody tires", "COVID" and "age". We included studies that used serology to estimate prevalence in healthcare workers. SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence has been shown to be greater in healthcare workers working on acute medical units or within domestic services. Antibody levels against seasonal coronaviruses, SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 were found to be higher in older adults, and patients who were hospitalised. Added value of this studyIn this healthcare worker seroprevalence modelling study at a large NHS foundation trust, we confirm that those working on acute medical units, COVID-19 "Red Zones" and within domestic services are most likely to be seropositive. Furthermore, we show that physiotherapists and occupational therapists have an increased risk of COVID-19 infection. We also confirm that antibody titres are greater in older individuals, even in the context of non-hospitalised cases. Importantly, we demonstrate that this can result in age-specific sensitivity in serological assays, where lower antibody titres in younger individuals results in lower assay sensitivity. Implications of all the available evidenceThere are distinct occupational roles and locations in hospitals where the risk of COVID-19 infection to healthcare workers is greatest, and this knowledge should be used to prioritise infection prevention control and other measures to protect healthcare workers. Serological assays may have different sensitivity profiles across different age groups, especially if assay validation was undertaken using samples from older and/or hospitalised patients, who tend to have higher antibody titres. Future seroprevalence studies should consider adjusting for age-specific assay sensitivities to estimate true seroprevalence rates. Author Contributions O_TBL View this table: org.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@77acb4org.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@eb9b35org.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@1af298org.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@12cf3e1org.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@3f6476_HPS_FORMAT_FIGEXP M_TBL C_TBL

9.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21259107

ABSTRACT

BackgroundSevere acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) lineage B.1.1.7 has been associated with an increased rate of transmission and disease severity among subjects testing positive in the community. Its impact on hospitalised patients is less well documented. MethodsWe collected viral sequences and clinical data of patients admitted with SARS-CoV-2 and hospital-onset COVID-19 infections (HOCIs), sampled 16/11/2020 - 10/01/2021, from eight hospitals participating in the COG-UK-HOCI study. Associations between the variant and the outcomes of all-cause mortality and intensive therapy unit (ITU) admission were evaluated using mixed effects Cox models adjusted by age, sex, comorbidities, care home residence, pregnancy and ethnicity. ResultsSequences were obtained from 2341 inpatients (HOCI cases = 786) and analysis of clinical outcomes was carried out in 2147 inpatients with all data available. The hazard ratio (HR) for mortality of B.1.1.7 compared to other lineages was 1.01 (95% CI 0.79-1.28, P=0.94) and for ITU admission was 1.01 (95% CI 0.75-1.37, P=0.96). Analysis of sex-specific effects of B.1.1.7 identified increased risk of mortality (HR 1.30, 95% CI 0.95-1.78) and ITU admission (HR 1.82, 95% CI 1.15-2.90) in females infected with the variant but not males (mortality HR 0.82, 95% CI 0.61-1.10; ITU HR 0.74, 95% CI 0.52-1.04). ConclusionsIn common with smaller studies of patients hospitalised with SARS-CoV-2 we did not find an overall increase in mortality or ITU admission associated with B.1.1.7 compared to other lineages. However, women with B.1.1.7 may be at an increased risk of admission to intensive care and at modestly increased risk of mortality.

10.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-446163

ABSTRACT

The spike (S) glycoprotein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that emerged in 2019 contained a suboptimal furin cleavage site at the S1/S2 junction with the sequence 681PRRAR/S686. This cleavage site is required for efficient airway replication, transmission, and pathogenicity of the virus. The B.1.617 lineage has recently emerged in India, coinciding with substantial disease burden across the country. Early evidence suggests that B.1.617.2 (a sublineage of B.1.617) is more highly transmissible than contemporary lineages. B.1.617 and its sublineages contain a constellation of S mutations including the substitution P681R predicted to further optimise this furin cleavage site. We provide experimental evidence that virus of the B.1.617 lineage has enhanced S cleavage, that enhanced processing of an expressed B.1.617 S protein in cells is due to P681R, and that this mutation enables more efficient cleavage of a peptide mimetic of the B.1.617 S1/S2 cleavage site by recombinant furin. Together, these data demonstrate viruses in this emerging lineage have enhanced S cleavage by furin which we hypothesise could be enhancing transmissibility and pathogenicity.

11.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-438904

ABSTRACT

We identify amino acid variants within dominant SARS-CoV-2 T-cell epitopes by interrogating global sequence data. Several variants within nucleocapsid and ORF3a epitopes have arisen independently in multiple lineages and result in loss of recognition by epitope-specific T-cells assessed by IFN-{gamma} and cytotoxic killing assays. These data demonstrate the potential for T-cell evasion and highlight the need for ongoing surveillance for variants capable of escaping T-cell as well as humoral immunity.

12.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-433156

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.7 viruses are more transmissible, may lead to greater clinical severity, and result in modest reductions in antibody neutralization. subgenomic RNA (sgRNA) is produced by discontinuous transcription of the SARS-CoV-2 genome and is a crucial step in the SARS-CoV-2 life cycle. Applying our tool (periscope) to ARTIC Network Oxford Nanopore genomic sequencing data from 4400 SARS-CoV-2 positive clinical samples, we show that normalised sgRNA expression profiles are significantly increased in B.1.1.7 infections (n=879). This increase is seen over the previous dominant circulating lineage in the UK, B.1.177 (n=943), which is independent of genomic reads, E gene cycle threshold and days since symptom onset at sampling. A noncanonical sgRNA which could represent ORF9b is found in 98.4% of B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 infections compared with only 13.8% of other lineages, with a 16-fold increase in median expression. We hypothesise that this is a direct consequence of a triple nucleotide mutation in nucleocapsid (28280:GAT>CAT, D3L) creating a transcription regulatory-like sequence complementary to a region 3 of the genomic leader. These findings provide a unique insight into the biology of B.1.1.7 and support monitoring of sgRNA profiles in sequence data to evaluate emerging potential variants of concern. One Sentence SummaryThe recently emerged and more transmissible SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.7 shows greater subgenomic RNA expression in clinical infections and enhanced expression of a noncanonical subgenomic RNA near ORF9b.

13.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20230599

ABSTRACT

While changes in SARS-CoV-2 viral load over time have been documented, detailed information on the impact of remdesivir and how it might alter intra-host viral evolution is limited. Sequential viral loads and deep sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 recovered from the upper respiratory tract of hospitalised children revealed that remdesivir treatment suppressed viral RNA levels in one patient but not in a second infected with an identical strain. Evidence of drug resistance to explain this difference was not found. Reduced levels of subgenomic (sg) RNA during treatment of the second patient, suggest an additional effect of remdesivir on viral replication that is independent of viral RNA levels. Haplotype reconstruction uncovered persistent SARS-CoV-2 variant genotypes in four patients. We conclude that these are likely to have arisen from within-host evolution, and not co-transmission, although superinfection cannot be excluded in one case. Sample-to-sample heterogeneity in the abundances of variant genotypes is best explained by the presence of discrete viral populations in the lung with incomplete population sampling in diagnostic swabs. Such compartmentalisation is well described in serious lung infections caused by influenza and Mycobacterium tuberculosis and has been associated with poor drug penetration, suboptimal treatment and drug resistance. Our data provide evidence that remdesivir is able to suppress SARS-CoV-2 replication in vivo but that its efficacy may be compromised by factors reducing penetration into the lung. Based on data from influenza and Mycobacterium tuberculosis lung infections we conclude that early use of remdesivir combined with other agents should now be evaluated. Summary SentenceDeep sequencing of longitudinal samples from SARS-CoV-2 infected paediatric patients identifies evidence of remdesivir-associated inhibition of viral replication in vivo and uncovers evidence of within host evolution of distinct viral genotypes.

14.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20230326

ABSTRACT

BackgroundRapid identification and investigation of healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) is important for suppression of SARS-CoV-2, but the infection source for hospital onset COVID-19 infections (HOCIs) cannot always be readily identified based only on epidemiological data. Viral sequencing data provides additional information regarding potential transmission clusters, but the low mutation rate of SARS-CoV-2 can make interpretation using standard phylogenetic methods difficult. MethodsWe developed a novel statistical method and sequence reporting tool (SRT) that combines epidemiological and sequence data in order to provide a rapid assessment of the probability of HCAI among HOCI cases (defined as first positive test >48 hours following admission) and to identify infections that could plausibly constitute outbreak events. The method is designed for prospective use, but was validated using retrospective datasets from hospitals in Glasgow and Sheffield collected February-May 2020. ResultsWe analysed data from 326 HOCIs. Among HOCIs with time-from-admission [≥]8 days the SRT algorithm identified close sequence matches from the same ward for 160/244 (65.6%) and in the remainder 68/84 (81.0%) had at least one similar sequence elsewhere in the hospital, resulting in high estimated probabilities of within-ward and within-hospital transmission. For HOCIs with time-from-admission 3-7 days, the SRT probability of healthcare acquisition was >0.5 in 33/82 (40.2%). ConclusionsThe methodology developed can provide rapid feedback on HOCIs that could be useful for infection prevention and control teams, and warrants further prospective evaluation. The integration of epidemiological and sequence data is important given the low mutation rate of SARS-CoV-2 and its variable incubation period.

15.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20195370

ABSTRACT

LamPORE is a novel diagnostic platform for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA that combines loop-mediated isothermal amplification with nanopore sequencing, which could potentially be used to analyse thousands of samples per day on a single instrument. We evaluated the performance of LamPORE against RT-PCR using RNA extracted from spiked respiratory samples and from stored nose and throat swabs collected at two UK hospitals. The limit of detection of LamPORE was 7-10 genome copies/{micro}l of extracted RNA. This is above the limit achievable by RT-PCR but was not associated with a significant reduction of sensitivity in clinical samples. Positive clinical specimens came mostly from patients with acute symptomatic infection, and among these LamPORE had a diagnostic sensitivity of 99.1% (226/228 [95% CI 96.9-99.9%]). Among negative clinical specimens, including 153 with other respiratory pathogens detected, LamPORE had a diagnostic specificity of 99.6% (278/279 [98.0-100.0%]). Overall, 1.4% (7/514 [0.5-2.9]) of samples produced an indeterminate result on first testing, and repeat LamPORE testing on the same RNA extract had a reproducibility of 96.8% (478/494 [94.8-98.1]). This indicates that LamPORE has a similar performance to RT-PCR for the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection in symptomatic patients, and offers a promising approach to high-throughput testing.

16.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20170043

ABSTRACT

IntroductionThe progression and severity of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), an infectious disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), varies significantly in the population. While the hallmarks of SARS-CoV-2 and severe COVID-19 within routine laboratory parameters are emerging, little is known about the impact of sex and age on these profiles. MethodsWe performed multidimensional analysis of millions of records of laboratory parameters and diagnostic tests for 178,887 individuals, of which 33,266 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. These included complete blood cell count, electrolytes, metabolites, arterial blood gases, enzymes, hormones, cancer biomarkers, and others. ResultsCOVID-19 induced similar alterations in the laboratory parameters in males compared to females. Biomarkers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and ferritin, were increased especially in older men with COVID-19, whereas other markers such as abnormal liver function tests were common across several age groups, except for young women. Low peripheral blood basophils and eosinophils were also more common in the elderly with COVID-19. Both male and female COVID-19 patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) displayed alterations in the coagulation system, and higher levels of neutrophils, CRP, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), among others. DiscussionOur study uncovers the laboratory profile of a large cohort of COVID-19 patients that underly discrepancies influenced by aging and biological sex. These profiles directly link COVID-19 disease presentation to an intricate interplay between sex, age and the immune response. One Sentence SummaryBig Data analysis of laboratory results from a large number of COVID-19 patients and controls reveals distinct disease profiles influenced by age and sex which may underly occurrence of severe disease. Key messagesO_ST_ABS- What is the key question?C_ST_ABSLittle is known about the impact of sex and age on the routine laboratory parameters measured in COVID-19 patients. - What is the bottom line?Our in-depth analysis unraveled distinct disease profiles influenced by age and sex which may underly occurrence of severe disease. - Why read on?This work will help physicians to interpret the disease presentation in COIVD-19 patients according to their age and sex.

17.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20136572

ABSTRACT

BackgroundIt can be a diagnostic challenge to identify COVID-19 patients without bacterial co-infection in whom antibiotics can be safely stopped. We sought to evaluate the validity of a guideline that recommends withholding antibiotics in patients with a low serum procalcitonin (PCT). MethodsWe retrospectively collected 28-day outcome data on patients admitted to Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, UK, between 5 March and 15 April 2020, with a positive SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and PCT within 48 hours of diagnosis. PCT was considered negative if [≤]0.25ng/ml and positive if >0.25ng/ml. Primary outcomes included antibiotic consumption, mortality, intensive care admission and length of hospital stay. Results368 patients met the inclusion criteria; 218 (59%) had a negative PCT and 150 (41%) positive. At 48 hours post-diagnosis, 73 (33%) of those with a negative PCT were receiving antimicrobials compared to 126 (84%) with a positive PCT (p<0.001), with a corresponding reduction in antimicrobial usage over 28 days (median DDD of 3.0 vs 6.8 (p<0.001); median DOT 2 vs 5 days (p<0.001) between the negative and positive PCT groups.) In the negative PCT group, there were fewer deaths (62 (28%) vs. 54 (36%), (p=0.021)) and critical care admissions (19 (9%) vs. 28 (19%), (p=0.007)) than in the positive PCT group. Median length of hospital stay was 8.7 and 9 days in the negative and positive PCT groups respectively. ConclusionsProcalcitonin is a valuable tool in the assessment of patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection, safely reducing the potential burden of unnecessary antibiotic usage.

18.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-181867

ABSTRACT

We have developed periscope, a tool for the detection and quantification of sub-genomic RNA (sgRNA) in SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequence data. The translation of the SARS-CoV-2 RNA genome for most open reading frames (ORFs) occurs via RNA intermediates termed "sub-genomic RNAs". sgRNAs are produced through discontinuous transcription which relies on homology between transcription regulatory sequences (TRS-B) upstream of the ORF start codons and that of the TRS-L which is located in the 5 UTR. TRS-L is immediately preceded by a leader sequence. This leader sequence is therefore found at the 5 end of all sgRNA. We applied periscope to 1,155 SARS-CoV-2 genomes from Sheffield, UK and validated our findings using orthogonal datasets and in vitro cell systems. Using a simple local alignment to detect reads which contain the leader sequence we were able to identify and quantify reads arising from canonical and non-canonical sgRNA. We were able to detect all canonical sgRNAs at expected abundances, with the exception of ORF10. A number of recurrent non-canonical sgRNAs are detected. We show that the results are reproducible using technical replicates and determine the optimum number of reads for sgRNA analysis. In VeroE6 ACE2+/- cell lines, periscope can detect the changes in the kinetics of sgRNA in orthogonal sequencing datasets. Finally, variants found in genomic RNA are transmitted to sgRNAs with high fidelity in most cases. This tool can be applied to all sequenced COVID-19 samples worldwide to provide comprehensive analysis of SARS-CoV-2 sgRNA.

19.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-029454

ABSTRACT

BackgroundGenetic variations across the SARS-CoV-2 genome may influence transmissibility of the virus and the hosts anti-viral immune response, in turn affecting the frequency of variants over-time. In this study, we examined the adjacent amino acid polymorphisms in the nucleocapsid (R203K/G204R) of SARS-CoV-2 that arose on the background of the spike D614G change and describe how strains harboring these changes became dominant circulating strains globally. MethodsDeep sequencing data of SARS-CoV-2 from public databases and from clinical samples were analyzed to identify and map genetic variants and sub-genomic RNA transcripts across the genome. ResultsSequence analysis suggests that the three adjacent nucleotide changes that result in the K203/R204 variant have arisen by homologous recombination from the core sequence (CS) of the leader transcription-regulating sequence (TRS) rather than by stepwise mutation. The resulting sequence changes generate a novel sub-genomic RNA transcript for the C-terminal dimerization domain of nucleocapsid. Deep sequencing data from 981 clinical samples confirmed the presence of the novel TRS-CS-dimerization domain RNA in individuals with the K203/R204 variant. Quantification of sub-genomic RNA indicates that viruses with the K203/R204 variant may also have increased expression of sub-genomic RNA from other open reading frames. ConclusionsThe finding that homologous recombination from the TRS may have occurred since the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 in humans resulting in both coding changes and novel sub-genomic RNA transcripts suggests this as a mechanism for diversification and adaptation within its new host.

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