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Embase; 2021.
Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-330496


The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) Ad26.COV2.S non-replicating viral vector vaccine has been widely deployed for COVID-19 vaccination programs in resource-limited settings. Here we confirm that neutralizing and binding responses to Ad26.COV2.S vaccination are stable for 6 months post-vaccination, when tested against multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants. Secondly, using longitudinal samples from individuals who experienced clinically mild breakthrough infections 4 to 5 months after vaccination, we show dramatically boosted binding antibodies, Fc effector function and neutralization. These high titer responses are of similar magnitude to humoral immune responses measured in severely ill, hospitalized donors, and are cross-reactive against diverse SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the extremely neutralization resistant Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant that currently dominates global infections, as well as SARS-CoV-1. These data have implications for population immunity in areas where the Ad26.COV2.S vaccine has been widely deployed, but where ongoing infections continue to occur at high levels.

Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-326997


The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant has multiple Spike (S) protein mutations that contribute to escape from the neutralizing antibody responses, and reducing vaccine protection from infection. The extent to which other components of the adaptive response such as T cells may still target Omicron and contribute to protection from severe outcomes is unknown. We assessed the ability of T cells to react with Omicron spike in participants who were vaccinated with Ad26.CoV2.S or BNT162b2, and in unvaccinated convalescent COVID-19 patients (n = 70). We found that 70-80% of the CD4 and CD8 T cell response to spike was maintained across study groups. Moreover, the magnitude of Omicron cross-reactive T cells was similar to that of the Beta and Delta variants, despite Omicron harbouring considerably more mutations. Additionally, in Omicron-infected hospitalized patients (n = 19), there were comparable T cell responses to ancestral spike, nucleocapsid and membrane proteins to those found in patients hospitalized in previous waves dominated by the ancestral, Beta or Delta variants (n = 49). These results demonstrate that despite Omicron’s extensive mutations and reduced susceptibility to neutralizing antibodies, the majority of T cell response, induced by vaccination or natural infection, crossrecognises the variant. Well-preserved T cell immunity to Omicron is likely to contribute to protection from severe COVID-19, supporting early clinical observations from South Africa.

Int J Infect Dis ; 116: 38-42, 2022 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1629350


INTRODUCTION: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019 is a global pandemic that is threatening the health and wellbeing of people worldwide. To date there have been more than 274 million reported cases and 5.3 million deaths. The Omicron variant first documented in the City of Tshwane, Gauteng Province, South Africa on 9 November 2021 led to exponential increases in cases and a sharp rise in hospital admissions. The clinical profile of patients admitted at a large hospital in Tshwane is compared with previous waves. METHODS: 466 hospital COVID-19 admissions since 14 November 2021 were compared to 3962 admissions since 4 May 2020, prior to the Omicron outbreak. Ninety-eight patient records at peak bed occupancy during the outbreak were reviewed for primary indication for admission, clinical severity, oxygen supplementation level, vaccination and prior COVID-19 infection. Provincial and city-wide daily cases and reported deaths, hospital admissions and excess deaths data were sourced from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, the National Department of Health and the South African Medical Research Council. RESULTS: For the Omicron and previous waves, deaths and ICU admissions were 4.5% vs 21.3% (p<0.00001), and 1% vs 4.3% (p<0.00001) respectively; length of stay was 4.0 days vs 8.8 days; and mean age was 39 years vs 49,8 years. Admissions in the Omicron wave peaked and declined rapidly with peak bed occupancy at 51% of the highest previous peak during the Delta wave. Sixty two (63%) patients in COVID-19 wards had incidental COVID-19 following a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test . Only one third (36) had COVID-19 pneumonia, of which 72% had mild to moderate disease. The remaining 28% required high care or ICU admission. Fewer than half (45%) of patients in COVID-19 wards required oxygen supplementation compared to 99.5% in the first wave. The death rate in the face of an exponential increase in cases during the Omicron wave at the city and provincial levels shows a decoupling of cases and deaths compared to previous waves, corroborating the clinical findings of decreased severity of disease seen in patients admitted to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital. CONCLUSION: There was decreased severity of COVID-19 disease in the Omicron-driven fourth wave in the City of Tshwane, its first global epicentre.

COVID-19 , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , Disease Outbreaks , Hospitals , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Severity of Illness Index , South Africa/epidemiology