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1.
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.

2.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21267534

ABSTRACT

In this report, we present live neutralisation titres against SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant, compared with neutralisation against Victoria, Beta and Delta variants. Sera from day-28 post second-dose were obtained from participants in the Com-COV2 study who had received a two-dose COVID-19 vaccination schedule with either AstraZeneca (AZD1222) or Pfizer (BNT162b2) vaccines. There was a substantial fall in neutralisation titres in recipients of both AZD1222 and BNT16b2 primary courses, with evidence of some recipients failing to neutralise at all. This will likely lead to increased breakthrough infections in previously infected or double vaccinated individuals, which could drive a further wave of infection, although there is currently no evidence of increased potential to cause severe disease, hospitalization or death.

3.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-471045

ABSTRACT

On the 24th November 2021 the sequence of a new SARS CoV-2 viral isolate spreading rapidly in Southern Africa was announced, containing far more mutations in Spike (S) than previously reported variants. Neutralization titres of Omicron by sera from vaccinees and convalescent subjects infected with early pandemic as well as Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta are substantially reduced or fail to neutralize. Titres against Omicron are boosted by third vaccine doses and are high in cases both vaccinated and infected by Delta. Mutations in Omicron knock out or substantially reduce neutralization by most of a large panel of potent monoclonal antibodies and antibodies under commercial development. Omicron S has structural changes from earlier viruses, combining mutations conferring tight binding to ACE2 to unleash evolution driven by immune escape, leading to a large number of mutations in the ACE2 binding site which rebalance receptor affinity to that of early pandemic viruses.

4.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21264207

ABSTRACT

Duration of protection from SARS-CoV-2 infection in people with HIV (PWH) following vaccination is unclear. In a sub-study of the phase 2/3 the COV002 trial (NCT04400838), 54 HIV positive male participants on antiretroviral therapy (undetectable viral loads, CD4+ T cells >350 cells/ul) received two doses of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222) 4-6 weeks apart and were followed for 6 months. Responses to vaccination were determined by serology (IgG ELISA and MesoScale Discovery (MSD)), neutralisation, ACE-2 inhibition, gamma interferon ELISpot, activation-induced marker (AIM) assay and T cell proliferation. We show that 6 months after vaccination the majority of measurable immune responses were greater than pre-vaccination baseline, but with evidence of a decline in both humoral and cell mediated immunity. There was, however, no significant difference compared to a cohort of HIV-uninfected individuals vaccinated with the same regimen. Responses to the variants of concern were detectable, although were lower than wild type. Pre-existing cross-reactive T cell responses to SARS-CoV-2 spike were associated with greater post-vaccine immunity and correlated with prior exposure to beta coronaviruses. These data support the on-going policy to vaccinate PWH against SARS-CoV-2, and underpin the need for long-term monitoring of responses after vaccination.

5.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-447308

ABSTRACT

There is an ongoing global effort to design, manufacture, and clinically assess vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. Over the course of the ongoing pandemic a number of new SARS-CoV-2 virus isolates or variants of concern (VoC) have been identified containing mutations in key proteins. In this study we describe the generation and preclinical assessment of a ChAdOx1-vectored vaccine (AZD2816) which expresses the spike protein of the Beta VoC (B.1.351). We demonstrate that AZD2816 is immunogenic after a single dose. When AZD2816 is used as a booster dose in animals primed with a vaccine encoding the original spike protein (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19/ [AZD1222]), high titre binding and neutralising antibodies against Beta (B.1.351), Gamma (P.1) and Delta (B.1.617.2) are induced. In addition, a strong and polyfunctional T cell response was measured in these booster regimens. These data support the ongoing clinical development and testing of this new variant vaccine.

6.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21256571

ABSTRACT

It is unclear whether prior endemic coronavirus infections affect COVID-19 severity. Here, we show that in cases of fatal COVID-19, antibody responses to the SARS-COV-2 spike are directed against epitopes shared with endemic beta-coronaviruses in the S2 subunit of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. This immune response is associated with the compromised production of a de novo SARS-CoV-2 spike response among individuals with fatal COVID-19 outcomes.

7.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-426463

ABSTRACT

Vaccine development against the SARS-CoV-2 virus focuses on the principal target of the neutralizing immune response, the spike (S) glycoprotein. Adenovirus-vectored vaccines offer an effective platform for the delivery of viral antigen, but it is important for the generation of neutralizing antibodies that they produce appropriately processed and assembled viral antigen that mimics that observed on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Here, we describe the structure, conformation and glycosylation of the S protein derived from the adenovirus-vectored ChAdOx1 nCoV-19/AZD1222 vaccine. We demonstrate native-like post-translational processing and assembly, and reveal the expression of S proteins on the surface of cells adopting the trimeric prefusion conformation. The data presented here confirms the use of ChAdOx1 adenovirus vectors as a leading platform technology for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

8.
Transfus Med ; 31(3): 167-175, 2021 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-979626

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: The lack of approved specific therapeutic agents to treat coronavirus disease (COVID-19) associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection has led to the rapid implementation of convalescent plasma therapy (CPT) trials in many countries, including the United Kingdom. Effective CPT is likely to require high titres of neutralising antibody (nAb) in convalescent donations. Understanding the relationship between functional neutralising antibodies and antibody levels to specific SARS-CoV-2 proteins in scalable assays will be crucial for the success of a large-scale collection. We assessed whether neutralising antibody titres correlated with reactivity in a range of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) targeting the spike (S) protein, the main target for human immune response. METHODS: Blood samples were collected from 52 individuals with a previous laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. These were assayed for SARS-CoV-2 nAbs by microneutralisation and pseudo-type assays and for antibodies by four different ELISAs. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was used to further identify sensitivity and specificity of selected assays to identify samples containing high nAb levels. RESULTS: All samples contained SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, whereas neutralising antibody titres of greater than 1:20 were detected in 43 samples (83% of those tested) and >1:100 in 22 samples (42%). The best correlations were observed with EUROimmun immunoglobulin G (IgG) reactivity (Spearman Rho correlation coefficient 0.88; p < 0.001). Based on ROC analysis, EUROimmun would detect 60% of samples with titres of >1:100 with 100% specificity using a reactivity index of 9.1 (13/22). DISCUSSION: Robust associations between nAb titres and reactivity in several ELISA-based antibody tests demonstrate their possible utility for scaled-up production of convalescent plasma containing potentially therapeutic levels of anti-SARS-CoV-2 nAbs.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , COVID-19/therapy , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Blood Donors , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19 Testing , Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay/methods , Humans , Immunization, Passive/methods , Male , ROC Curve , Sensitivity and Specificity
9.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20205831

ABSTRACT

Serological detection of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 is essential for establishing rates of seroconversion in populations, detection of seroconversion after vaccination, and for seeking evidence for a level of antibody that may be protective against COVID-19 disease. Several high-performance commercial tests have been described, but these require centralised laboratory facilities that are comparatively expensive, and therefore not available universally. Red cell agglutination tests have a long history in blood typing, and general serology through linkage of reporter molecules to the red cell surface. They do not require special equipment, are read by eye, have short development times, low cost and can be applied as a Point of Care Test (POCT). We describe a red cell agglutination test for the detection of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD). We show that the Haemagglutination Test ("HAT") has a sensitivity of 90% and specificity of 99% for detection of antibodies after a PCR diagnosed infection. The HAT can be titrated, detects rising titres in the first five days of hospital admission, correlates well with a commercial test that detects antibodies to the RBD, and can be applied as a point of care test. The developing reagent is composed of a previously described nanobody to a conserved glycophorin A epitope on red cells, linked to the RBD from SARS-CoV-2. It can be lyophilised for ease of shipping. We have scaled up production of this reagent to one gram, which is sufficient for ten million tests, at a cost of [~]0.27 UK pence per test well. Aliquots of this reagent are ready to be supplied to qualified groups anywhere in the world that need to detect antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, but do not have the facilities for high throughput commercial tests.

10.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-134551

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 is an ongoing global crisis in which the development of effective vaccines and therapeutics will depend critically on understanding the natural immunity to the virus, including the role of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells. We have conducted a study of 42 patients following recovery from COVID-19, including 28 mild and 14 severe cases, comparing their T cell responses to those of 16 control donors. We assessed the immune memory of T cell responses using IFN{gamma} based assays with overlapping peptides spanning SARS-CoV-2 apart from ORF1. We found the breadth, magnitude and frequency of memory T cell responses from COVID-19 were significantly higher in severe compared to mild COVID-19 cases, and this effect was most marked in response to spike, membrane, and ORF3a proteins. Total and spike-specific T cell responses correlated with the anti-Spike, anti-Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) as well as anti-Nucleoprotein (NP) endpoint antibody titre (p<0.001, <0.001 and =0.002). We identified 39 separate peptides containing CD4+ and/or CD8+ epitopes, which strikingly included six immunodominant epitope clusters targeted by T cells in many donors, including 3 clusters in spike (recognised by 29%, 24%, 18% donors), two in the membrane protein (M, 32%, 47%) and one in the nucleoprotein (Np, 35%). CD8+ responses were further defined for their HLA restriction, including B*4001-restricted T cells showing central memory and effector memory phenotype. In mild cases, higher frequencies of multi-cytokine producing M- and NP-specific CD8+ T cells than spike-specific CD8+ T cells were observed. They furthermore showed a higher ratio of SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8+ to CD4+ T cell responses. Immunodominant epitope clusters and peptides containing T cell epitopes identified in this study will provide critical tools to study the role of virus-specific T cells in control and resolution of SARS-CoV-2 infections. The identification of T cell specificity and functionality associated with milder disease, highlights the potential importance of including non-spike proteins within future COVID-19 vaccine design.

11.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20091694

ABSTRACT

IntroductionThe lack of approved specific therapeutic agents to treat COVID-19 associated with SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection has led to the rapid implementation and/or randomised controlled trials of convalescent plasma therapy (CPT) in many countries including the UK. Effective CPT is likely to require high titres of neutralising antibody levels in convalescent donations. Understanding the relationship between functional neutralising antibodies and antibody levels to specific SARS-CoV-2 proteins in scalable assays will be crucial for the success of large-scale collection and use of convalescent plasma. We assessed whether neutralising antibody titres correlated with reactivity in a range of ELISA assays targeting the spike (S) protein, the main target for human immune response. MethodsBlood samples were collected from 52 individuals with a previous laboratory confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection at least 28 days after symptom resolution. These were assayed for SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibodies by native virus and lentiviral pseudotype assays, and for antibodies by four different ELISAs measuring antibody binding to different format of viral S proteins. ROC analysis was used to further identify sensitivity and specificity of selected assays to identify samples containing high neutralising antibody levels suitable for clinical use of convalescent plasma. ResultsAll samples contained SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, whereas neutralising antibody titres of greater than 1:20 were detected in 43 samples (83% of those tested) and >1:100 in 22 samples (42%). The best correlations were observed with EUROimmun IgG ELISA S/CO reactivity (Spearman Rho correlation co-efficient 0.88; p<0.001). Based on ROC analysis, EUROimmun would detect 60% of samples with titres of >1:100 with 100% specificity using a reactivity index of 9.1 (13/22). DiscussionRobust associations between virus neutralising antibody titres and reactivity in several ELISA-based antibody tests demonstrate their possible utility for scaled-up production of convalescent plasma containing potentially therapeutic levels of anti-SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibodies.

12.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20066407

ABSTRACT

BackgroundThe COVID-19 pandemic caused >1 million infections during January-March 2020. There is an urgent need for reliable antibody detection approaches to support diagnosis, vaccine development, safe release of individuals from quarantine, and population lock-down exit strategies. We set out to evaluate the performance of ELISA and lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) devices. MethodsWe tested plasma for COVID (SARS-CoV-2) IgM and IgG antibodies by ELISA and using nine different LFIA devices. We used a panel of plasma samples from individuals who have had confirmed COVID infection based on a PCR result (n=40), and pre-pandemic negative control samples banked in the UK prior to December-2019 (n=142). ResultsELISA detected IgM or IgG in 34/40 individuals with a confirmed history of COVID infection (sensitivity 85%, 95%CI 70-94%), vs. 0/50 pre-pandemic controls (specificity 100% [95%CI 93-100%]). IgG levels were detected in 31/31 COVID-positive individuals tested [≥]10 days after symptom onset (sensitivity 100%, 95%CI 89-100%). IgG titres rose during the 3 weeks post symptom onset and began to fall by 8 weeks, but remained above the detection threshold. Point estimates for the sensitivity of LFIA devices ranged from 55-70% versus RT-PCR and 65-85% versus ELISA, with specificity 95-100% and 93-100% respectively. Within the limits of the study size, the performance of most LFIA devices was similar. ConclusionsCurrently available commercial LFIA devices do not perform sufficiently well for individual patient applications. However, ELISA can be calibrated to be specific for detecting and quantifying SARS-CoV-2 IgM and IgG and is highly sensitive for IgG from 10 days following first symptoms.

13.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20060467

ABSTRACT

BackgroundThe progression and geographical distribution of SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in the UK and elsewhere is unknown because typically only symptomatic individuals are diagnosed. We performed a serological study of blood donors in Scotland between the 17th of March and the 18th of May to detect neutralising antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 as a marker of past infection and epidemic progression. AimTo determine if sera from blood bank donors can be used to track the emergence and progression of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic. MethodsA pseudotyped SARS-CoV-2 virus microneutralisation assay was used to detect neutralising antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. The study group comprised samples from 3,500 blood donors collected in Scotland between the 17th of March and 19th of May, 2020. Controls were collected from 100 donors in Scotland during 2019. ResultsAll samples collected on the 17th March, 2020 (n=500) were negative in the pseudotyped SARS-CoV-2 virus microneutralisation assay. Neutralising antibodies were detected in 6/500 donors from the 23th-26th of March. The number of samples containing neutralising antibodies did not significantly rise after the 5th-6th April until the end of the study on the 18th of May. We find that infections are concentrated in certain postcodes indicating that outbreaks of infection are extremely localised. In contrast, other areas remain comparatively untouched by the epidemic. ConclusionThese data indicate that sero-surveys of blood banks can serve as a useful tool for tracking the emergence and progression of an epidemic like the current SARS-CoV-2 outbreak.

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