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1.
Genome Med ; 14(1): 61, 2022 06 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1951320

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The continuous emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC) with immune escape properties, such as Delta (B.1.617.2) and Omicron (B.1.1.529), questions the extent of the antibody-mediated protection against the virus. Here we investigated the long-term antibody persistence in previously infected subjects and the extent of the antibody-mediated protection against B.1, B.1.617.2 and BA.1 variants in unvaccinated subjects previously infected, vaccinated naïve and vaccinated previously infected subjects. METHODS: Blood samples collected 15 months post-infection from unvaccinated (n=35) and vaccinated (n=41) previously infected subjects (Vo' cohort) were tested for the presence of antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) and nucleocapsid (N) antigens using the Abbott, DiaSorin, and Roche immunoassays. The serum neutralising reactivity was assessed against B.1, B.1.617.2 (Delta), and BA.1 (Omicron) SARS-CoV-2 strains through micro-neutralisation. The antibody titres were compared to those from previous timepoints, performed at 2- and 9-months post-infection on the same individuals. Two groups of naïve subjects were used as controls, one from the same cohort (unvaccinated n=29 and vaccinated n=20) and a group of vaccinated naïve healthcare workers (n=61). RESULTS: We report on the results of the third serosurvey run in the Vo' cohort. With respect to the 9-month time point, antibodies against the S antigen significantly decreased (P=0.0063) among unvaccinated subjects and increased (P<0.0001) in vaccinated individuals, whereas those against the N antigen decreased in the whole cohort. When compared with control groups (naïve Vo' inhabitants and naïve healthcare workers), vaccinated subjects that were previously infected had higher antibody levels (P<0.0001) than vaccinated naïve subjects. Two doses of vaccine elicited stronger anti-S antibody response than natural infection (P<0.0001). Finally, the neutralising reactivity of sera against B.1.617.2 and BA.1 was 4-fold and 16-fold lower than the reactivity observed against the original B.1 strain. CONCLUSIONS: These results confirm that vaccination induces strong antibody response in most individuals, and even stronger in previously infected subjects. Neutralising reactivity elicited by natural infection followed by vaccination is increasingly weakened by the recent emergence of VOCs. While immunity is not completely compromised, a change in vaccine development may be required going forward, to generate cross-protective pan-coronavirus immunity in the global population.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Viral Vaccines , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccination
2.
Front Microbiol ; 13: 915069, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1928436

ABSTRACT

The DNA secondary structures that deviate from the classic Watson and Crick base pairing are increasingly being reported to form transiently in the cell and regulate specific cellular mechanisms. Human viruses are cell parasites that have evolved mechanisms shared with the host cell to support their own replication and spreading. Contrary to human host cells, viruses display a diverse array of nucleic acid types, which include DNA or RNA in single-stranded or double-stranded conformations. This heterogeneity improves the possible occurrence of non-canonical nucleic acid structures. We have previously shown that human virus genomes are enriched in G-rich sequences that fold in four-stranded nucleic acid secondary structures, the G-quadruplexes.Here, by extensive bioinformatics analysis on all available genomes, we showed that human viruses are enriched in highly conserved multiple A (and T or U) tracts, with such an array that they could in principle form quadruplex structures. By circular dichroism, NMR, and Taq polymerase stop assays, we proved that, while A/T/U-quadruplexes do not form, these tracts still display biological significance, as they invariably trigger polymerase pausing within two bases from the A/T/U tract. "A" bases display the strongest effect. Most of the identified A-tracts are in the coding strand, both at the DNA and RNA levels, suggesting their possible relevance during viral translation. This study expands on the presence and mechanism of nucleic acid secondary structures in human viruses and provides a new direction for antiviral research.

3.
Front Neurosci ; 16: 848602, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1825506

ABSTRACT

The aims of the present study were to obtain sleep quality and sleep timing information in a group of university students and to evaluate the effects of a circadian hygiene education initiative. All students of the University of Padova (approximately 64,000) were contacted by e-mail (major campaigns in October 2019 and October 2020) and directed to an ad hoc website for collection of demographics and sleep quality/timing information. Participants (n = 5,740) received one of two sets of circadian hygiene advice ("A regular life" or "Bright days and dark nights"). Every month, they were then asked how easy it had been to comply and provided with the advice again. At any even month from joining, they completed the sleep quality/timing questionnaires again. Information on academic performance was obtained post hoc, together with representative samples of lecture (n = 5,972) and examination (n = 1,800) timings, plus lecture attendances (n = 25,302). Fifty-two percent of students had poor sleep quality, and 82% showed signs of social jetlag. Those who joined in October 2020, after several months of lockdown and distance learning, had better sleep quality, less social jetlag, and later sleep habits. Over approximately a year, the "Bright days and dark nights" advice resulted in significantly earlier get-up times compared with the "A regular life" advice. Similarly, it also resulted in a trend toward earlier midsleep (i.e., the midpoint, expressed as clock time, between sleep onset and sleep offset) and toward a decrease in the latency between wake-up and get-up time, with no impact on sleep duration. Significant changes in most sleep quality and sleep timing variables (i.e., fewer night awakenings, less social jetlag, and delayed sleep timing during lock-down) were observed in both advice groups over approximately a year, mostly in association with pandemic-related events characterizing 2020. Early chronotype students had better academic performances compared with their later chronotype counterparts. In a multivariate model, sleep quality, chronotype and study subject (science and technology, health and medical, or social and humanities) were independent predictors of academic performance. Taken together, these results underlie the importance of designing circadian-friendly university timetables.

4.
JCI Insight ; 7(10)2022 05 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1794307

ABSTRACT

T cells play a prominent role in orchestrating the immune response to viral diseases, but their role in the clinical presentation and subsequent immunity to SARS-CoV-2 infection remains poorly understood. As part of a population-based survey of the municipality of Vo', Italy, conducted after the initial SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, we sampled the T cell receptor (TCR) repertoires of the population 2 months after the initial PCR survey and followed up positive cases 9 and 15 months later. At 2 months, we found that 97.0% (98 of 101) of cases had elevated levels of TCRs associated with SARS-CoV-2. T cell frequency (depth) was increased in individuals with more severe disease. Both depth and diversity (breadth) of the TCR repertoire were positively associated with neutralizing antibody titers, driven mostly by CD4+ T cells directed against spike protein. At the later time points, detection of these TCRs remained high, with 90.7% (78 of 96) and 86.2% (25 of 29) of individuals having detectable signal at 9 and 15 months, respectively. Forty-three individuals were vaccinated by month 15 and showed a significant increase in TCRs directed against spike protein. Taken together, these results demonstrate the central role of T cells in mounting an immune defense against SARS-CoV-2 that persists out to 15 months.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes , Humans , Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus
5.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 5736, 2022 04 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1778634

ABSTRACT

The aims of this study were to characterize new SARS-CoV-2 genomes sampled all over Italy and to reconstruct the origin and the evolutionary dynamics in Italy and Europe between February and June 2020. The cluster analysis showed only small clusters including < 80 Italian isolates, while most of the Italian strains were intermixed in the whole tree. Pure Italian clusters were observed mainly after the lockdown and distancing measures were adopted. Lineage B and B.1 spread between late January and early February 2020, from China to Veneto and Lombardy, respectively. Lineage B.1.1 (20B) most probably evolved within Italy and spread from central to south Italian regions, and to European countries. The lineage B.1.1.1 (20D) developed most probably in other European countries entering Italy only in the second half of March and remained localized in Piedmont until June 2020. In conclusion, within the limitations of phylogeographical reconstruction, the estimated ancestral scenario suggests an important role of China and Italy in the widespread diffusion of the D614G variant in Europe in the early phase of the pandemic and more dispersed exchanges involving several European countries from the second half of March 2020.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control , Europe/epidemiology , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , Italy/epidemiology , Phylogeography , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
6.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-331841

ABSTRACT

Population testing remains central to COVID-19 control and surveillance, with countries increasingly using antigen tests rather than molecular tests. Here we describe a SARS-CoV-2 variant that escapes N antigen tests due to multiple disruptive amino-acid substitutions in the N protein. By fitting a multistrain compartmental model to genomic and epidemiological data, we show that widespread antigen testing in the Italian region of Veneto favored the undetected spread of the antigen-escape variant compared to the rest of Italy. We highlight novel limitations of widespread antigen testing in the absence of molecular testing for diagnostic or confirmatory purposes. Critically, in the presence of a variant that escapes antigen testing, following up a proportion of negative antigen tests with a molecular test is the optimal testing strategy. Together, these findings highlight the importance of retaining molecular testing for surveillance purposes, also in contexts where the use of antigen tests is widespread.

7.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-314810

ABSTRACT

The aim of this study was the reconstruction of SARS-CoV-2 evolutionary dynamics in time and space in Italy and Europe between February and June 2020. The cluster analysis showed that pure Italian clusters were observed mainly after the lockdown and distancing measures were adopted. Lineage B and B.1 spread between late January and early February 2020, from China to Veneto and Lombardy, respectively. Lineage B.1.1 most probably evolved within Italy and spread from central to south Italian regions, and to European countries. The lineage B.1.1.1 entered Italy only in the second half of March and remained localized in Piedmont until June 2020. In conclusion, the reconstructed ancestral scenario suggests a central role of China and Italy in the widespread diffusion of the D614G variant in Europe in the early phase of the pandemic and more dispersed exchanges involving several European countries from the second half of March 2020.

8.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-314809

ABSTRACT

The aims of this study were to characterize new SARS-CoV-2 genomes sampled all over Italy and to reconstruct the origin and the evolutionary dynamics in Italy and Europe between February and June 2020. The cluster analysis showed only small clusters including <80 Italian isolates, while most of the Italian strains were intermixed in the whole tree. Pure Italian clusters were observed mainly after the lockdown and distancing measures were adopted. Lineage B and B.1 spread between late January and early February 2020, from China to Veneto and Lombardy, respectively. Lineage B.1.1 most probably evolved within Italy and spread from central to south Italian regions, and to European countries. The lineage B.1.1.1 developed most probably in other European countries entering Italy only in the second half of March and remained localized in Piedmont until June 2020. In conclusion, the reconstructed ancestral scenario suggests a central role of China and Italy in the widespread diffusion of the D614G variant in Europe in the early phase of the pandemic and more dispersed exchanges involving several European countries from the second half of March 2020.

9.
Viruses ; 14(2)2022 02 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1687058

ABSTRACT

In February 2020, the municipality of Vo', a small town near Padua (Italy) was quarantined due to the first coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19)-related death detected in Italy. To investigate the viral prevalence and clinical features, the entire population was swab tested in two sequential surveys. Here we report the analysis of 87 viral genomes, which revealed that the unique ancestor haplotype introduced in Vo' belongs to lineage B, carrying the mutations G11083T and G26144T. The viral sequences allowed us to investigate the viral evolution while being transmitted within and across households and the effectiveness of the non-pharmaceutical interventions implemented in Vo'. We report, for the first time, evidence that novel viral haplotypes can naturally arise intra-host within an interval as short as two weeks, in approximately 30% of the infected individuals, regardless of symptom severity or immune system deficiencies. Moreover, both phylogenetic and minimum spanning network analyses converge on the hypothesis that the viral sequences evolved from a unique common ancestor haplotype that was carried by an index case. The lockdown extinguished both the viral spread and the emergence of new variants.


Subject(s)
Family Characteristics , Genome, Viral , Haplotypes , Host Microbial Interactions/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Communicable Disease Control/methods , Evolution, Molecular , Humans , Italy/epidemiology , Mutation , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/classification
10.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-296781

ABSTRACT

In February and March 2020, one of the first Italian clusters of SARS-CoV-2 infection was detected in the municipality of Vo’. Positive subjects were followed up at 2 and 9 months post-infection with different immuno-assays and a micro-neutralisation test. Here we report on the results of the third serosurvey conducted in the same population in June 2021, 15 months post-infection, when we tested 61% of the infected individuals (n=76). Antibodies against the spike (S) antigen significantly decreased (P<0.006, Kruskal-Wallis test) among unvaccinated subjects (n=35) and increased (P<0.0001) in vaccinated individuals (n=41), whereas those against the nucleocapsid (N) decreased in the whole cohort. From the comparison with two control groups (naïve Vo’ inhabitants (n=20) and healthcare workers (HCW, n=61)), subjects vaccinated post exposure (hybrid immunity) had higher antibody levels (P<0.0001) than subjects vaccinated when naïve. Two doses of vaccine elicited stronger anti-S antibody response than natural infection (P<0.0001). Finally, the neutralising reactivity of sera against the B.1.617.2 (Delta) was lower than compared to the B.1 strain (median 1:320 versus 1:1280 1/dil, P<0.0001, and 1:640 versus 1:2560 1/dil, P=0.0014, after one or two vaccine doses, respectively), although subjects with hybrid immunity maintained neutralising titres above 1:40 1/dil.

13.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 4383, 2021 07 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1317806

ABSTRACT

In February and March 2020, two mass swab testing campaigns were conducted in Vo', Italy. In May 2020, we tested 86% of the Vo' population with three immuno-assays detecting antibodies against the spike and nucleocapsid antigens, a neutralisation assay and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Subjects testing positive to PCR in February/March or a serological assay in May were tested again in November. Here we report on the results of the analysis of the May and November surveys. We estimate a seroprevalence of 3.5% (95% Credible Interval (CrI): 2.8-4.3%) in May. In November, 98.8% (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 93.7-100.0%) of sera which tested positive in May still reacted against at least one antigen; 18.6% (95% CI: 11.0-28.5%) showed an increase of antibody or neutralisation reactivity from May. Analysis of the serostatus of the members of 1,118 households indicates a 26.0% (95% CrI: 17.2-36.9%) Susceptible-Infectious Transmission Probability. Contact tracing had limited impact on epidemic suppression.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19 Testing/methods , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/transmission , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Serologic Tests/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing , Contact Tracing , Female , Humans , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Immunoglobulin M/blood , Italy/epidemiology , Male , Nucleocapsid , Seroepidemiologic Studies , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
15.
Nature ; 584(7821): 425-429, 2020 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-628367

ABSTRACT

On 21 February 2020, a resident of the municipality of Vo', a small town near Padua (Italy), died of pneumonia due to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection1. This was the first coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19)-related death detected in Italy since the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Hubei province2. In response, the regional authorities imposed the lockdown of the whole municipality for 14 days3. Here we collected information on the demography, clinical presentation, hospitalization, contact network and the presence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in nasopharyngeal swabs for 85.9% and 71.5% of the population of Vo' at two consecutive time points. From the first survey, which was conducted around the time the town lockdown started, we found a prevalence of infection of 2.6% (95% confidence interval (CI): 2.1-3.3%). From the second survey, which was conducted at the end of the lockdown, we found a prevalence of 1.2% (95% CI: 0.8-1.8%). Notably, 42.5% (95% CI: 31.5-54.6%) of the confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections detected across the two surveys were asymptomatic (that is, did not have symptoms at the time of swab testing and did not develop symptoms afterwards). The mean serial interval was 7.2 days (95% CI: 5.9-9.6). We found no statistically significant difference in the viral load of symptomatic versus asymptomatic infections (P = 0.62 and 0.74 for E and RdRp genes, respectively, exact Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test). This study sheds light on the frequency of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, their infectivity (as measured by the viral load) and provides insights into its transmission dynamics and the efficacy of the implemented control measures.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Asymptomatic Infections/epidemiology , Betacoronavirus/enzymology , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , COVID-19 , Child , Child, Preschool , Coronavirus Envelope Proteins , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Coronavirus RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase , Disease Outbreaks/statistics & numerical data , Female , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Italy/epidemiology , Male , Middle Aged , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Prevalence , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/genetics , SARS-CoV-2 , Viral Envelope Proteins/genetics , Viral Load , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/genetics , Young Adult
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