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1.
Int J Infect Dis ; 118: 150-154, 2022 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1838855

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: At present, it is unclear whether the extent of reduced risk of severe disease seen with SARS-Cov-2 Omicron variant infection is caused by a decrease in variant virulence or by higher levels of population immunity. METHODS: RdRp target delay (RTD) in the Seegene AllplexTM 2019-nCoV PCR assay is a proxy marker for the Delta variant. The absence of this proxy marker in the transition period was used to identify suspected Omicron infections. Cox regression was performed for the outcome of hospital admission in those who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on the Seegene AllplexTM assay from November 1 to December 14, 2021 in the Western Cape Province, South Africa, in the public sector. Adjustments were made for vaccination status and prior diagnosis of infection. RESULTS: A total of 150 cases with RTD and 1486 cases without RTD were included. Cases without RTD had a lower hazard of admission (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 0.56; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.34-0.91). Complete vaccination was protective against admission, with an aHR of 0.45 (95% CI, 0.26-0.77). CONCLUSION: Omicron has resulted in a lower risk of hospital admission compared with contemporaneous Delta infection, when using the proxy marker of RTD. Under-ascertainment of reinfections with an immune escape variant remains a challenge to accurately assessing variant virulence.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Hepatitis D , COVID-19/diagnosis , Humans , Polymerase Chain Reaction , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , South Africa/epidemiology , Survival Analysis
3.
Trop Med Int Health ; 27(6): 564-573, 2022 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1784751

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: The objective was to compare COVID-19 outcomes in the Omicron-driven fourth wave with prior waves in the Western Cape, assess the contribution of undiagnosed prior infection to differences in outcomes in a context of high seroprevalence due to prior infection and determine whether protection against severe disease conferred by prior infection and/or vaccination was maintained. METHODS: In this cohort study, we included public sector patients aged ≥20 years with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis between 14 November and 11 December 2021 (wave four) and equivalent prior wave periods. We compared the risk between waves of the following outcomes using Cox regression: death, severe hospitalisation or death and any hospitalisation or death (all ≤14 days after diagnosis) adjusted for age, sex, comorbidities, geography, vaccination and prior infection. RESULTS: We included 5144 patients from wave four and 11,609 from prior waves. The risk of all outcomes was lower in wave four compared to the Delta-driven wave three (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) [95% confidence interval (CI)] for death 0.27 [0.19; 0.38]. Risk reduction was lower when adjusting for vaccination and prior diagnosed infection (aHR: 0.41, 95% CI: 0.29; 0.59) and reduced further when accounting for unascertained prior infections (aHR: 0.72). Vaccine protection was maintained in wave four (aHR for outcome of death: 0.24; 95% CI: 0.10; 0.58). CONCLUSIONS: In the Omicron-driven wave, severe COVID-19 outcomes were reduced mostly due to protection conferred by prior infection and/or vaccination, but intrinsically reduced virulence may account for a modest reduction in risk of severe hospitalisation or death compared to the Delta-driven wave.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Clinical Laboratory Techniques , SARS-CoV-2 , Adult , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Testing , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , Cohort Studies , Female , Humans , Male , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Seroepidemiologic Studies , South Africa/epidemiology , Young Adult
4.
Mol Biol Evol ; 39(4)2022 04 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1758789

ABSTRACT

Among the 30 nonsynonymous nucleotide substitutions in the Omicron S-gene are 13 that have only rarely been seen in other SARS-CoV-2 sequences. These mutations cluster within three functionally important regions of the S-gene at sites that will likely impact (1) interactions between subunits of the Spike trimer and the predisposition of subunits to shift from down to up configurations, (2) interactions of Spike with ACE2 receptors, and (3) the priming of Spike for membrane fusion. We show here that, based on both the rarity of these 13 mutations in intrapatient sequencing reads and patterns of selection at the codon sites where the mutations occur in SARS-CoV-2 and related sarbecoviruses, prior to the emergence of Omicron the mutations would have been predicted to decrease the fitness of any virus within which they occurred. We further propose that the mutations in each of the three clusters therefore cooperatively interact to both mitigate their individual fitness costs, and, in combination with other mutations, adaptively alter the function of Spike. Given the evident epidemic growth advantages of Omicron overall previously known SARS-CoV-2 lineages, it is crucial to determine both how such complex and highly adaptive mutation constellations were assembled within the Omicron S-gene, and why, despite unprecedented global genomic surveillance efforts, the early stages of this assembly process went completely undetected.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , COVID-19/genetics , Humans , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
5.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 2552, 2022 02 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1692551

ABSTRACT

There is a need for effective therapy for COVID-19 pneumonia. Convalescent plasma has antiviral activity and early observational studies suggested benefit in reducing COVID-19 severity. We investigated the safety and efficacy of convalescent plasma in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in a population with a high HIV prevalence and where few therapeutic options were available. We performed a double-blinded, multicenter, randomized controlled trial in one private and three public sector hospitals in South Africa. Adult participants with COVID-19 pneumonia requiring non-invasive oxygen were randomized 1:1 to receive a single transfusion of 200 mL of either convalescent plasma or 0.9% saline solution. The primary outcome measure was hospital discharge and/or improvement of ≥ 2 points on the World Health Organisation Blueprint Ordinal Scale for Clinical Improvement by day 28 of enrolment. The trial was stopped early for futility by the Data and Safety Monitoring Board. 103 participants, including 21 HIV positive individuals, were randomized at the time of premature trial termination: 52 in the convalescent plasma and 51 in the placebo group. The primary outcome occurred in 31 participants in the convalescent plasma group and and 32 participants in the placebo group (relative risk 1.03 (95% CI 0.77 to 1.38). Two grade 1 transfusion-related adverse events occurred. Participants who improved clinically received convalescent plasma with a higher median anti-SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody titre compared with those who did not (298 versus 205 AU/mL). Our study contributes additional evidence for recommendations against the use of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 pneumonia. Safety and feasibility in this population supports future investigation for other indications.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/therapy , Adult , COVID-19/mortality , COVID-19/pathology , COVID-19/virology , Double-Blind Method , Female , HIV Infections/complications , Hospitals, Public , Humans , Immunization, Passive , Kaplan-Meier Estimate , Male , Middle Aged , Placebo Effect , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Severity of Illness Index , South Africa , Treatment Outcome
6.
Sci Transl Med ; 14(631): eabj6824, 2022 Feb 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1685482

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 variants that escape neutralization and potentially affect vaccine efficacy have emerged. T cell responses play a role in protection from reinfection and severe disease, but the potential for spike mutations to affect T cell immunity is incompletely understood. We assessed neutralizing antibody and T cell responses in 44 South African COVID-19 patients either infected with the Beta variant (dominant from November 2020 to May 2021) or infected before its emergence (first wave, Wuhan strain) to provide an overall measure of immune evasion. We show that robust spike-specific CD4 and CD8 T cell responses were detectable in Beta-infected patients, similar to first-wave patients. Using peptides spanning the Beta-mutated regions, we identified CD4 T cell responses targeting the wild-type peptides in 12 of 22 first-wave patients, all of whom failed to recognize corresponding Beta-mutated peptides. However, responses to mutated regions formed only a small proportion (15.7%) of the overall CD4 response, and few patients (3 of 44) mounted CD8 responses that targeted the mutated regions. Among the spike epitopes tested, we identified three epitopes containing the D215, L18, or D80 residues that were specifically recognized by CD4 T cells, and their mutated versions were associated with a loss of response. This study shows that despite loss of recognition of immunogenic CD4 epitopes, CD4 and CD8 T cell responses to Beta are preserved overall. These observations may explain why several vaccines have retained the ability to protect against severe COVID-19 even with substantial loss of neutralizing antibody activity against Beta.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Antibodies, Viral , Epitopes , Humans , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
7.
Nature ; 603(7901): 488-492, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1661968

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) has multiple spike protein mutations1,2 that contribute to viral escape from antibody neutralization3-6 and reduce vaccine protection from infection7,8. 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. Here we assessed the ability of T cells to react to Omicron spike protein in participants who were vaccinated with Ad26.CoV2.S or BNT162b2, or unvaccinated convalescent COVID-19 patients (n = 70). Between 70% and 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 for Beta (B.1.351) and Delta (B.1.617.2) variants, despite Omicron harbouring considerably more mutations. In patients who were hospitalized with Omicron infections (n = 19), there were comparable T cell responses to ancestral spike, nucleocapsid and membrane proteins to those in patients hospitalized in previous waves dominated by the ancestral, Beta or Delta variants (n = 49). Thus, despite extensive mutations and reduced susceptibility to neutralizing antibodies of Omicron, the majority of T cell responses induced by vaccination or infection cross-recognize the variant. It remains to be determined whether well-preserved T cell immunity to Omicron contributes to protection from severe COVID-19 and is linked to early clinical observations from South Africa and elsewhere9-12.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Cross Reactions/immunology , Immunity, Cellular , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , T-Lymphocytes/immunology , Adult , Aged , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Convalescence , Hospitalization , Humans , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/classification
8.
Journal of Clinical Investigation ; 131(12):1-15, 2021.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-1334627

ABSTRACT

T cells are involved in control of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), but limited knowledge is available on the relationship between antigen-specific T cell response and disease severity. Here, we used flow cytometry to assess the magnitude, function, and phenotype of SARS coronavirus 2-specific (SARS-CoV-2-specific) CD4· T cells in 95 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, 38 of them being HIV-1 and/or tuberculosis (TB) coinfected, and 38 non-COVID-19 patients. We showed that SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4· T cell attributes, rather than magnitude, were associated with disease severity, with severe disease being characterized by poor polyfunctional potential, reduced proliferation capacity, and enhanced HLA-DR expression. Moreover, HIV-1 and TB coinfection skewed the SARS-CoV-2 T cell response. HIV-1-mediated CD4· T cell depletion associated with suboptimal T cell and humoral immune responses to SARS-CoV-2, and a decrease in the polyfunctional capacity of SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4· T cells was observed in COVID-19 patients with active TB. Our results also revealed that COVID-19 patients displayed reduced frequency of Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific CD4· T cells, with possible implications for TB disease progression. These results corroborate the important role of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells in COVID-19 pathogenesis and support the concept of altered T cell functions in patients with severe disease.

9.
Eur Respir J ; 59(1)2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1277909

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Rapid tests to evaluate severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-specific T-cell responses are urgently needed to decipher protective immunity and aid monitoring vaccine-induced immunity. METHODS: Using a rapid whole blood assay requiring a minimal amount of blood, we measured qualitatively and quantitatively SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4 T-cell responses in 31 healthcare workers using flow cytometry. RESULTS: 100% of COVID-19 convalescent participants displayed a detectable SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4 T-cell response. SARS-CoV-2-responding cells were also detected in 40.9% of participants with no COVID-19-associated symptoms or who tested PCR-negative. Phenotypic assessment indicated that, in COVID-19 convalescent participants, SARS-CoV-2 CD4 responses displayed an early differentiated memory phenotype with limited capacity to produce interferon (IFN)-γ. Conversely, in participants with no reported symptoms, SARS-CoV-2 CD4 responses were enriched in late differentiated cells, coexpressing IFN-γ and tumour necrosis factor-α and also Granzyme B. CONCLUSIONS: This proof-of-concept study presents a scalable alternative to peripheral blood mononuclear cell-based assays to enumerate and phenotype SARS-CoV-2-responding T-cells, thus representing a practical tool to monitor adaptive immunity due to natural infection or vaccine trials.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , Leukocytes, Mononuclear , Phenotype , T-Lymphocytes
10.
J Clin Invest ; 131(12)2021 06 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1269823

ABSTRACT

T cells are involved in control of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), but limited knowledge is available on the relationship between antigen-specific T cell response and disease severity. Here, we used flow cytometry to assess the magnitude, function, and phenotype of SARS coronavirus 2-specific (SARS-CoV-2-specific) CD4+ T cells in 95 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, 38 of them being HIV-1 and/or tuberculosis (TB) coinfected, and 38 non-COVID-19 patients. We showed that SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+ T cell attributes, rather than magnitude, were associated with disease severity, with severe disease being characterized by poor polyfunctional potential, reduced proliferation capacity, and enhanced HLA-DR expression. Moreover, HIV-1 and TB coinfection skewed the SARS-CoV-2 T cell response. HIV-1-mediated CD4+ T cell depletion associated with suboptimal T cell and humoral immune responses to SARS-CoV-2, and a decrease in the polyfunctional capacity of SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+ T cells was observed in COVID-19 patients with active TB. Our results also revealed that COVID-19 patients displayed reduced frequency of Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific CD4+ T cells, with possible implications for TB disease progression. These results corroborate the important role of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells in COVID-19 pathogenesis and support the concept of altered T cell functions in patients with severe disease.


Subject(s)
CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Coinfection/immunology , HIV-1/immunology , Mycobacterium tuberculosis/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Tuberculosis/immunology , Adult , Aged , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/pathology , COVID-19/pathology , Coinfection/pathology , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Severity of Illness Index , Tuberculosis/pathology
11.
Nat Med ; 27(8): 1362-1366, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1246381

ABSTRACT

Patients with cancer are currently prioritized in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination programs globally, which includes administration of mRNA vaccines. Cytokine release syndrome (CRS) has not been reported with mRNA vaccines and is an extremely rare immune-related adverse event of immune checkpoint inhibitors. We present a case of CRS that occurred 5 d after vaccination with BTN162b2 (tozinameran)-the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine-in a patient with colorectal cancer on long-standing anti-PD-1 monotherapy. The CRS was evidenced by raised inflammatory markers, thrombocytopenia, elevated cytokine levels (IFN-γ/IL-2R/IL-18/IL-16/IL-10) and steroid responsiveness. The close temporal association of vaccination and diagnosis of CRS in this case suggests that CRS was a vaccine-related adverse event; with anti-PD1 blockade as a potential contributor. Overall, further prospective pharmacovigillence data are needed in patients with cancer, but the benefit-risk profile remains strongly in favor of COVID-19 vaccination in this population.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/adverse effects , Colorectal Neoplasms/metabolism , Cytokine Release Syndrome , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , Male , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification
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