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1.
Nat Med ; 2022 Jun 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1908212

ABSTRACT

Three lineages (BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3) of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Omicron variant of concern predominantly drove South Africa's fourth Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) wave. We have now identified two new lineages, BA.4 and BA.5, responsible for a fifth wave of infections. The spike proteins of BA.4 and BA.5 are identical, and similar to BA.2 except for the addition of 69-70 deletion (present in the Alpha variant and the BA.1 lineage), L452R (present in the Delta variant), F486V and the wild-type amino acid at Q493. The two lineages differ only outside of the spike region. The 69-70 deletion in spike allows these lineages to be identified by the proxy marker of S-gene target failure, on the background of variants not possessing this feature. BA.4 and BA.5 have rapidly replaced BA.2, reaching more than 50% of sequenced cases in South Africa by the first week of April 2022. Using a multinomial logistic regression model, we estimated growth advantages for BA.4 and BA.5 of 0.08 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.08-0.09) and 0.10 (95% CI: 0.09-0.11) per day, respectively, over BA.2 in South Africa. The continued discovery of genetically diverse Omicron lineages points to the hypothesis that a discrete reservoir, such as human chronic infections and/or animal hosts, is potentially contributing to further evolution and dispersal of the virus.

2.
J Med Virol ; 94(8): 3676-3684, 2022 Aug.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1849500

ABSTRACT

The circulation of Omicron BA.1 led to the rapid increase in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) cases in South Africa in November 2021, which warranted the use of more rapid detection methods. We, therefore, assessed the ability to detect Omicron BA.1 using genotyping assays to identify specific mutations in SARS-CoV-2 positive samples, Gauteng province, South Africa. The TaqPath™ COVID-19 real-time polymerase chain reaction assay was performed on all samples selected to identify spike gene target failure (SGTF). SARS-CoV-2 genotyping assays were used for the detection of del69/70 and K417N mutation. Whole-genome sequencing was performed on a subset of genotyped samples to confirm these findings. Of the positive samples received, 11.0% (175/1589) were randomly selected to assess if SGTF and genotyping assays, that detect del69/70 and K417N mutations, could identify Omicron BA.1. We identified SGTF in 98.9% (173/175) of samples, of which 88.0% (154/175) had both the del69/70 and K417N mutation. The genotyped samples (45.7%; 80/175) that were sequenced confirmed Omicron BA.1 (97.5%; 78/80). Our data show that genotyping for the detection of the del69/70 and K417N coupled with SGTF is efficient to exclude Alpha and Beta variants and rapidly detect Omicron BA.1. However, we still require assays for the detection of unique mutations that will allow for the differentiation between other Omicron sublineages. Therefore, the use of genotyping assays to detect new dominant or emerging lineages of SARS-CoV-2 will be beneficial in limited-resource settings.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/diagnosis , Genotype , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , South Africa , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
3.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 1976, 2022 04 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1783980

ABSTRACT

Global genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 has identified variants associated with increased transmissibility, neutralization resistance and disease severity. Here we report the emergence of the PANGO lineage C.1.2, detected at low prevalence in South Africa and eleven other countries. The initial C.1.2 detection is associated with a high substitution rate, and includes changes within the spike protein that have been associated with increased transmissibility or reduced neutralization sensitivity in SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern or variants of interest. Like Beta and Delta, C.1.2 shows significantly reduced neutralization sensitivity to plasma from vaccinees and individuals infected with the ancestral D614G virus. In contrast, convalescent donors infected with either Beta or Delta show high plasma neutralization against C.1.2. These functional data suggest that vaccine efficacy against C.1.2 will be equivalent to Beta and Delta, and that prior infection with either Beta or Delta will likely offer protection against C.1.2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , Humans , Neutralization Tests , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
4.
Lancet ; 399(10323): 437-446, 2022 01 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1641746

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant of concern was identified in South Africa in November, 2021, and was associated with an increase in COVID-19 cases. We aimed to assess the clinical severity of infections with the omicron variant using S gene target failure (SGTF) on the Thermo Fisher Scientific TaqPath COVID-19 PCR test as a proxy. METHODS: We did data linkages for national, South African COVID-19 case data, SARS-CoV-2 laboratory test data, SARS-CoV-2 genome data, and COVID-19 hospital admissions data. For individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 via TaqPath PCR tests, infections were designated as either SGTF or non-SGTF. The delta variant was identified by genome sequencing. Using multivariable logistic regression models, we assessed disease severity and hospitalisations by comparing individuals with SGTF versus non-SGTF infections diagnosed between Oct 1 and Nov 30, 2021, and we further assessed disease severity by comparing SGTF-infected individuals diagnosed between Oct 1 and Nov 30, 2021, with delta variant-infected individuals diagnosed between April 1 and Nov 9, 2021. FINDINGS: From Oct 1 (week 39), 2021, to Dec 6 (week 49), 2021, 161 328 cases of COVID-19 were reported in South Africa. 38 282 people were diagnosed via TaqPath PCR tests and 29 721 SGTF infections and 1412 non-SGTF infections were identified. The proportion of SGTF infections increased from two (3·2%) of 63 in week 39 to 21 978 (97·9%) of 22 455 in week 48. After controlling for factors associated with hospitalisation, individuals with SGTF infections had significantly lower odds of admission than did those with non-SGTF infections (256 [2·4%] of 10 547 vs 121 [12·8%] of 948; adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0·2, 95% CI 0·1-0·3). After controlling for factors associated with disease severity, the odds of severe disease were similar between hospitalised individuals with SGTF versus non-SGTF infections (42 [21%] of 204 vs 45 [40%] of 113; aOR 0·7, 95% CI 0·3-1·4). Compared with individuals with earlier delta variant infections, SGTF-infected individuals had a significantly lower odds of severe disease (496 [62·5%] of 793 vs 57 [23·4%] of 244; aOR 0·3, 95% CI 0·2-0·5), after controlling for factors associated with disease severity. INTERPRETATION: Our early analyses suggest a significantly reduced odds of hospitalisation among individuals with SGTF versus non-SGTF infections diagnosed during the same time period. SGTF-infected individuals had a significantly reduced odds of severe disease compared with individuals infected earlier with the delta variant. Some of this reduced severity is probably a result of previous immunity. FUNDING: The South African Medical Research Council, the South African National Department of Health, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the African Society of Laboratory Medicine, Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and the Fleming Fund.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/physiopathology , Hospitalization/statistics & numerical data , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Severity of Illness Index , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing , Child , Child, Preschool , Female , Genome, Viral , Humans , Information Storage and Retrieval , Logistic Models , Male , Middle Aged , Multivariate Analysis , Odds Ratio , South Africa/epidemiology , Young Adult
5.
Vaccine ; 38(45): 7007-7014, 2020 10 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1452423

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Data on influenza economic burden in risk groups for severe influenza are important to guide targeted influenza immunization, especially in resource-limited settings. However, this information is limited in low- and middle-income countries. METHODS: We estimated the cost (from a health system and societal perspective) and years of life lost (YLL) for influenza-associated illness in South Africa during 2013-2015 among (i) children aged 6-59 months, (ii) individuals aged 5-64 years with HIV, pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) and selected underlying medical conditions (UMC), separately, (iii) pregnant women and (iv) individuals aged ≥65 years, using publicly available data and data collected through laboratory-confirmed influenza surveillance and costing studies. All costs were expressed in 2015 prices using the South Africa all-items Consumer Price Index. RESULTS: During 2013-2015, the mean annual cost of influenza-associated illness among the selected risk groups accounted for 52.1% ($140.9/$270.5 million) of the total influenza-associated illness cost (for the entire population of South Africa), 45.2% ($52.2/$115.5 million) of non-medically attended illness costs, 43.3% ($46.7/$107.9 million) of medically-attended mild illness costs and 89.3% ($42.0/$47.1 million) of medically-attended severe illness costs. The YLL among the selected risk groups accounted for 86.0% (262,069 /304,867 years) of the total YLL due to influenza-associated death. CONCLUSION: In South Africa, individuals in risk groups for severe influenza accounted for approximately half of the total influenza-associated illness cost but most of the cost of influenza-associated medically attended severe illness and YLL. This study provides the foundation for future studies on the cost-effectiveness of influenza immunization among risk groups.


Subject(s)
Cost of Illness , Influenza, Human , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Child , Child, Preschool , Cost-Benefit Analysis , Female , Humans , Influenza, Human/epidemiology , Influenza, Human/prevention & control , Middle Aged , Pregnancy , South Africa/epidemiology , Vaccination , Young Adult
6.
Euro Surveill ; 26(29)2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1323058

ABSTRACT

BackgroundIn South Africa, COVID-19 control measures to prevent SARS-CoV-2 spread were initiated on 16 March 2020. Such measures may also impact the spread of other pathogens, including influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) with implications for future annual epidemics and expectations for the subsequent northern hemisphere winter.MethodsWe assessed the detection of influenza and RSV through facility-based syndromic surveillance of adults and children with mild or severe respiratory illness in South Africa from January to October 2020, and compared this with surveillance data from 2013 to 2019.ResultsFacility-based surveillance revealed a decline in influenza virus detection during the regular season compared with previous years. This was observed throughout the implementation of COVID-19 control measures. RSV detection decreased soon after the most stringent COVID-19 control measures commenced; however, an increase in RSV detection was observed after the typical season, following the re-opening of schools and the easing of measures.ConclusionCOVID-19 non-pharmaceutical interventions led to reduced circulation of influenza and RSV in South Africa. This has limited the country's ability to provide influenza virus strains for the selection of the annual influenza vaccine. Delayed increases in RSV case numbers may reflect the easing of COVID-19 control measures. An increase in influenza virus detection was not observed, suggesting that the measures may have impacted the two pathogens differently. The impact that lowered and/or delayed influenza and RSV circulation in 2020 will have on the intensity and severity of subsequent annual epidemics is unknown and warrants close monitoring.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Influenza Vaccines , Influenza, Human , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections , Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human , Adult , Child , Humans , Influenza, Human/diagnosis , Influenza, Human/epidemiology , Influenza, Human/prevention & control , Pandemics/prevention & control , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/diagnosis , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/epidemiology , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2 , South Africa/epidemiology
7.
Influenza Other Respir Viruses ; 15(6): 789-803, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1322743

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: The PHIRST study (Prospective Household cohort study of Influenza, Respiratory Syncytial virus, and other respiratory pathogens community burden and Transmission dynamics in South Africa) aimed to estimate the community burden of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) including the incidence of infection, symptomatic fraction, and to assess household transmission. PARTICIPANTS: We enrolled 1684 individuals in 327 randomly selected households in a rural and an urban site over three consecutive influenza and two RSV seasons. A new cohort of households was enrolled each year. Participants were sampled with nasopharyngeal swabs twice-weekly during the RSV and influenza seasons of the year of enrolment. Serology samples were collected at enrolment and before and after the influenza season annually. FINDINGS TO DATE: There were 122 113 potential individual follow-up visits over the 3 years, and participants were interviewed for 105 783 (87%) of these. Out of 105 683 nasopharyngeal swabs, 1258 (1%) and 1026 (1%) tested positive on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for influenza viruses and RSV, respectively. Over one third of individuals had PCR-confirmed influenza each year. Overall, there was influenza transmission to 10% of household contacts of an index case. FUTURE PLANS: Future planned analyses include analysis of influenza serology results and RSV burden and transmission. Households enrolled in the PHIRST study during 2016-2018 were eligible for inclusion in a study of SARS-CoV-2 transmission initiated in July 2020. This study uses similar testing frequency to assess the community burden of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the role of asymptomatic infection in virus transmission.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Influenza, Human , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections , Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human , Cohort Studies , Humans , Influenza, Human/epidemiology , Prospective Studies , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/epidemiology , SARS-CoV-2 , South Africa/epidemiology
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