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1.
Infection ; 2020 Sep 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-774008

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: To evaluate the presence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in conjunctival secretions from patients without ocular symptoms. METHODS: Conjunctival swabs were prospectively collected from laboratory-confirmed Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients without ocular symptoms for reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and viral culture. RESULTS: A total of 158 conjunctival swabs were obtained from 49 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patients. The median duration of illness when the first conjunctival swab was obtained was 10 days (range 2-27 days). Four conjunctival swabs from four different patients (4/49, 8.2%) were positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA by RT-PCR. The Ct values ranged from 32.7 to 37.7 (mean 35.4). Viral cultures were negative for all four RT-PCR-positive conjunctival swabs. CONCLUSION: Conjunctival secretions of a minority of COVID-19 patients without ocular symptoms may contain relatively low levels of SARS-CoV-2 RNA, but their infectiousness remains undetermined. Appropriate infection control measures should be implemented during ophthalmological assessment of COVID-19 patients to prevent potential nosocomial transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

2.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2020 Aug 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-694735

ABSTRACT

After two months of relative quiescence, a large COVID-19 outbreak occurred in Hong Kong in July 2020 after gradual relaxation of social distancing policy. Two unique SARS-CoV-2 phylogenetic clusters have been identified among locally-acquired cases, with most genomes belonging to cluster HK1 which is phylogenetically related to SARS-CoV-2 reported overseas.

3.
Int J Mol Sci ; 21(15)2020 Jul 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-693630

ABSTRACT

To control the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent its resurgence in areas preparing for a return of economic activities, a method for a rapid, simple, and inexpensive point-of-care diagnosis and mass screening is urgently needed. We developed and evaluated a one-step colorimetric reverse-transcriptional loop-mediated isothermal amplification assay (COVID-19-LAMP) for detection of SARS-CoV-2, using SARS-CoV-2 isolate and respiratory samples from patients with COVID-19 (n = 223) and other respiratory virus infections (n = 143). The assay involves simple equipment and techniques and low cost, without the need for expensive qPCR machines, and the result, indicated by color change, is easily interpreted by naked eyes. COVID-19-LAMP can detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA with detection limit of 42 copies/reaction. Of 223 respiratory samples positive for SARS-CoV-2 by qRT-PCR, 212 and 219 were positive by COVID-19-LAMP at 60 and 90 min (sensitivities of 95.07% and 98.21%) respectively, with the highest sensitivities among nasopharyngeal swabs (96.88% and 98.96%), compared to sputum/deep throat saliva samples (94.03% and 97.02%), and throat swab samples (93.33% and 98.33%). None of the 143 samples with other respiratory viruses were positive by COVID-19-LAMP, showing 100% specificity. Samples with higher viral load showed shorter detection time, some as early as 30 min. This inexpensive, highly sensitive and specific COVID-19-LAMP assay can be useful for rapid deployment as mobile diagnostic units to resource-limiting areas for point-of-care diagnosis, and for unlimited high-throughput mass screening at borders to reduce cross-regional transmission.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/genetics , Colorimetry/methods , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Mass Screening/economics , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , RNA, Viral/analysis , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , Colorimetry/economics , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Humans , Limit of Detection , Nasopharynx/virology , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques/methods , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Point-of-Care Systems , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Viral Load
4.
Immunity ; 2020 Aug 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-693493

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has resulted in millions of infections, yet the role of host immune responses in early COVID-19 pathogenesis remains unclear. By investigating 17 acute and 24 convalescent patients, we found that acute SARS-CoV-2 infection resulted in broad immune cell reduction including T, natural killer, monocyte, and dendritic cells (DCs). DCs were significantly reduced with functional impairment, and ratios of conventional DCs to plasmacytoid DCs were increased among acute severe patients. Besides lymphocytopenia, although neutralizing antibodies were rapidly and abundantly generated in patients, there were delayed receptor binding domain (RBD)- and nucleocapsid protein (NP)-specific T cell responses during the first 3 weeks after symptoms onset. Moreover, acute RBD- and NP-specific T cell responses included relatively more CD4 T cells than CD8 T cells. Our findings provided evidence that impaired DCs, together with timely inverted strong antibody but weak CD8 T cell responses, could contribute to acute COVID-19 pathogenesis and have implications for vaccine development.

5.
Open Forum Infect. Dis. ; 6(7)20200605.
Article in English | ELSEVIER | ID: covidwho-592170

ABSTRACT

Background: Olfactory dysfunction (OD) has been reported in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, there are knowledge gaps about the severity, prevalence, etiology, and duration of OD in COVID-19 patients. Methods: Olfactory function was assessed in all participants using questionnaires and the butanol threshold test (BTT). Patients with COVID-19 and abnormal olfaction were further evaluated using the smell identification test (SIT), sinus imaging, and nasoendoscopy. Selected patients received nasal biopsies. Systematic review was performed according to PRISMA guidelines. PubMed items from January 1, 2020 to April 23, 2020 were searched. Studies that reported clinical data on olfactory disturbances in COVID-19 patients were analyzed. Results: We included 18 COVID-19 patients and 18 controls. Among COVID-19 patients, 12 of 18 (67%) reported olfactory symptoms and OD was confirmed in 6 patients by BTT and SIT. Olfactory dysfunction was the only symptom in 2 patients. Mean BTT score of patients was worse than controls (P =. 004, difference in means = 1.8; 95% confidence interval, 0.6-2.9). Sinusitis and olfactory cleft obstruction were absent in most patients. Immunohistochemical analysis of nasal biopsy revealed the presence of infiltrative CD68+macrophages harboring severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antigen in the stroma. Olfactory dysfunction persisted in 2 patients despite clinical recovery. Systematic review showed that the prevalence of olfactory disturbances in COVID-19 ranged from 5% to 98%. Most studies did not assess olfaction quantitatively. Conclusions: Olfactory dysfunction is common in COVID-19 and may be the only symptom. Coronavirus disease 2019-related OD can be severe and prolonged. Mucosal infiltration by CD68+macrophages expressing SARS-CoV-2 viral antigen may contribute to COVID-19-related OD.

6.
Open Forum Infect. Dis. ; 6(7)20200605.
Article in English | ELSEVIER | ID: covidwho-548236

ABSTRACT

Background: Olfactory dysfunction (OD) has been reported in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, there are knowledge gaps about the severity, prevalence, etiology, and duration of OD in COVID-19 patients. Methods: Olfactory function was assessed in all participants using questionnaires and the butanol threshold test (BTT). Patients with COVID-19 and abnormal olfaction were further evaluated using the smell identification test (SIT), sinus imaging, and nasoendoscopy. Selected patients received nasal biopsies. Systematic review was performed according to PRISMA guidelines. PubMed items from January 1, 2020 to April 23, 2020 were searched. Studies that reported clinical data on olfactory disturbances in COVID-19 patients were analyzed. Results: We included 18 COVID-19 patients and 18 controls. Among COVID-19 patients, 12 of 18 (67%) reported olfactory symptoms and OD was confirmed in 6 patients by BTT and SIT. Olfactory dysfunction was the only symptom in 2 patients. Mean BTT score of patients was worse than controls (P =. 004, difference in means = 1.8; 95% confidence interval, 0.6-2.9). Sinusitis and olfactory cleft obstruction were absent in most patients. Immunohistochemical analysis of nasal biopsy revealed the presence of infiltrative CD68+macrophages harboring severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antigen in the stroma. Olfactory dysfunction persisted in 2 patients despite clinical recovery. Systematic review showed that the prevalence of olfactory disturbances in COVID-19 ranged from 5% to 98%. Most studies did not assess olfaction quantitatively. Conclusions: Olfactory dysfunction is common in COVID-19 and may be the only symptom. Coronavirus disease 2019-related OD can be severe and prolonged. Mucosal infiltration by CD68+macrophages expressing SARS-CoV-2 viral antigen may contribute to COVID-19-related OD.

7.
J Clin Virol ; 129: 104476, 2020 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-401826

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Rapid and sensitive diagnostic assays for SARS-CoV-2 detection are required for prompt patient management and infection control. The analytical and clinical performances of LightMix® Modular SARS and Wuhan CoV E-gene kit, a widely used commercial assay for SARS-CoV-2 detection, have not been well studied. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the performance characteristics of the LightMix® E-gene kit in comparison with well-validated in-house developed COVID-19 RT-PCR assays. STUDY DESIGN: Serial dilutions of SARS-CoV-2 culture isolate extracts were used for analytical sensitivity evaluation. A total of 289 clinical specimens from 186 patients with suspected COVID-19 and 8 proficiency testing (PT) samples were used to evaluate the diagnostic performance of the LightMix® E-gene kit against in-house developed COVID-19-RdRp/Hel and COVID-19-N RT-PCR assays. RESULTS: The LightMix® E-gene kit had a limit of detection of 1.8 × 10-1 TCID50/mL, which was one log10 lower than those of the two in-house RT-PCR assays. The LightMix® E-gene kit (149/289 [51.6%]) had similar sensitivity as the in-house assays (144/289 [49.8%] for RdRp/Hel and 146/289 [50.5%] for N). All three assays gave correct results for all the PT samples. Cycle threshold (Cp) values of the LightMix® E-gene kit and in-house assays showed excellent correlation. Reproducibility of the Cp values was satisfactory with intra- and inter-assay coefficient of variation values <5%. Importantly, the LightMix® E-gene kit, when used as a stand-alone assay, was equally sensitive as testing algorithms using multiple COVID-19 RT-PCR assays. CONCLUSIONS: The LightMix® E-gene kit is a rapid and sensitive assay for SARS-CoV-2 detection. It has fewer verification requirements compared to laboratory-developed tests.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , Clinical Laboratory Techniques/methods , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/methods , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , RNA, Viral/analysis , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Female , Humans , Limit of Detection , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , RNA, Viral/genetics , Reference Standards , Reproducibility of Results , Sensitivity and Specificity , Time Factors , Young Adult
8.
Lancet ; 395(10238): 1695-1704, 2020 05 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-232479

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Effective antiviral therapy is important for tackling the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We assessed the efficacy and safety of combined interferon beta-1b, lopinavir-ritonavir, and ribavirin for treating patients with COVID-19. METHODS: This was a multicentre, prospective, open-label, randomised, phase 2 trial in adults with COVID-19 who were admitted to six hospitals in Hong Kong. Patients were randomly assigned (2:1) to a 14-day combination of lopinavir 400 mg and ritonavir 100 mg every 12 h, ribavirin 400 mg every 12 h, and three doses of 8 million international units of interferon beta-1b on alternate days (combination group) or to 14 days of lopinavir 400 mg and ritonavir 100 mg every 12 h (control group). The primary endpoint was the time to providing a nasopharyngeal swab negative for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 RT-PCR, and was done in the intention-to-treat population. The study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04276688. FINDINGS: Between Feb 10 and March 20, 2020, 127 patients were recruited; 86 were randomly assigned to the combination group and 41 were assigned to the control group. The median number of days from symptom onset to start of study treatment was 5 days (IQR 3-7). The combination group had a significantly shorter median time from start of study treatment to negative nasopharyngeal swab (7 days [IQR 5-11]) than the control group (12 days [8-15]; hazard ratio 4·37 [95% CI 1·86-10·24], p=0·0010). Adverse events included self-limited nausea and diarrhoea with no difference between the two groups. One patient in the control group discontinued lopinavir-ritonavir because of biochemical hepatitis. No patients died during the study. INTERPRETATION: Early triple antiviral therapy was safe and superior to lopinavir-ritonavir alone in alleviating symptoms and shortening the duration of viral shedding and hospital stay in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19. Future clinical study of a double antiviral therapy with interferon beta-1b as a backbone is warranted. FUNDING: The Shaw-Foundation, Richard and Carol Yu, May Tam Mak Mei Yin, and Sanming Project of Medicine.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Interferon beta-1b/therapeutic use , Lopinavir/therapeutic use , Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy , Ribavirin/therapeutic use , Ritonavir/therapeutic use , Adult , Betacoronavirus , Drug Combinations , Drug Therapy, Combination , Female , Hong Kong , Hospitalization , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics
9.
Lancet ; 395(10238): 1695-1704, 2020 05 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-209647

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Effective antiviral therapy is important for tackling the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We assessed the efficacy and safety of combined interferon beta-1b, lopinavir-ritonavir, and ribavirin for treating patients with COVID-19. METHODS: This was a multicentre, prospective, open-label, randomised, phase 2 trial in adults with COVID-19 who were admitted to six hospitals in Hong Kong. Patients were randomly assigned (2:1) to a 14-day combination of lopinavir 400 mg and ritonavir 100 mg every 12 h, ribavirin 400 mg every 12 h, and three doses of 8 million international units of interferon beta-1b on alternate days (combination group) or to 14 days of lopinavir 400 mg and ritonavir 100 mg every 12 h (control group). The primary endpoint was the time to providing a nasopharyngeal swab negative for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 RT-PCR, and was done in the intention-to-treat population. The study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04276688. FINDINGS: Between Feb 10 and March 20, 2020, 127 patients were recruited; 86 were randomly assigned to the combination group and 41 were assigned to the control group. The median number of days from symptom onset to start of study treatment was 5 days (IQR 3-7). The combination group had a significantly shorter median time from start of study treatment to negative nasopharyngeal swab (7 days [IQR 5-11]) than the control group (12 days [8-15]; hazard ratio 4·37 [95% CI 1·86-10·24], p=0·0010). Adverse events included self-limited nausea and diarrhoea with no difference between the two groups. One patient in the control group discontinued lopinavir-ritonavir because of biochemical hepatitis. No patients died during the study. INTERPRETATION: Early triple antiviral therapy was safe and superior to lopinavir-ritonavir alone in alleviating symptoms and shortening the duration of viral shedding and hospital stay in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19. Future clinical study of a double antiviral therapy with interferon beta-1b as a backbone is warranted. FUNDING: The Shaw-Foundation, Richard and Carol Yu, May Tam Mak Mei Yin, and Sanming Project of Medicine.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Interferon beta-1b/therapeutic use , Lopinavir/therapeutic use , Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy , Ribavirin/therapeutic use , Ritonavir/therapeutic use , Adult , Betacoronavirus , Drug Combinations , Drug Therapy, Combination , Female , Hong Kong , Hospitalization , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics
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