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1.
Embase; 2022.
Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-338256

ABSTRACT

Omicron (B.1.1.529) shows extensive escape from vaccine immunity, although vaccination reduces severe disease and death1. Boosting with vaccines incorporating variant spike sequences could possibly broaden immunity2. One approach to choose the variant may be to measure immunity elicited by vaccination combined with variant infection. Here we investigated Omicron neutralization in people infected with the Beta (B.1.351) variant and subsequently vaccinated with Pfizer BNT162b2. We observed that Beta infection alone elicited poor Omicron cross-neutralization, similar to what we previously found3 with BNT162b2 vaccination alone or in combination with ancestral or Delta virus infection. In contrast, Beta infection combined with BNT162b2 vaccination elicited neutralization with substantially lower Omicron escape.

2.
Embase; 2021.
Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-336070

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Globally, there have been more than 404 million cases of SARS-CoV-2, with 5.8 million confirmed deaths, as of February 2022. South Africa has experienced four waves of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, with the second, third, and fourth waves being driven by the Beta, Delta, and Omicron variants, respectively. A key question with the emergence of new variants is the extent to which they are able to reinfect those who have had a prior natural infection. We developed two approaches to monitor routine epidemiological surveillance data to examine whether SARS-CoV-2 reinfection risk has changed through time in South Africa, in the context of the emergence of the Beta (B.1.351), Delta (B.1.617.2), and Omicron (B.1.1.529) variants. We analyze line list data on positive tests for SARS-CoV-2 with specimen receipt dates between 04 March 2020 and 31 January 2022, collected through South Africa's National Notifiable Medical Conditions Surveillance System. Individuals having sequential positive tests at least 90 days apart were considered to have suspected reinfections. Our routine monitoring of reinfection risk included comparison of reinfection rates to the expectation under a null model (approach 1) and estimation of the time-varying hazards of infection and reinfection throughout the epidemic (approach 2) based on model-based reconstruction of the susceptible populations eligible for primary and second infections. Results: 105,323 suspected reinfections were identified among 2,942,248 individuals with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 who had a positive test result at least 90 days prior to 31 January 2022. The number of reinfections observed through the end of the third wave in September 2021 was consistent with the null model of no change in reinfection risk (approach 1). Although increases in the hazard of primary infection were observed following the introduction of both the Beta and Delta variants, no corresponding increase was observed in the reinfection hazard (approach 2). Contrary to expectation, the estimated hazard ratio for reinfection versus primary infection was lower during waves driven by the Beta and Delta variants than for the first wave (relative hazard ratio for wave 2 versus wave 1: 0.71 (CI95: 0.60-0.85);for wave 3 versus wave 1: 0.54 (CI95: 0.45-0.64)). In contrast, the recent spread of the Omicron variant has been associated with an increase in reinfection hazard coefficient. The estimated hazard ratio for reinfection versus primary infection versus wave 1 was 1.75 (CI95: 1.48-2.10) for the period of Omicron emergence (01 November 2021 to 30 November 2021) and 1.70 (CI95: 1.44-2.04) for wave 4 versus wave 1. Individuals with identified reinfections since 01 November 2021 had experienced primary infections in all three prior waves, and an increase in third infections has been detected since mid-November 2021. Many individuals experiencing third infections had second infections during the third (Delta) wave that ended in September 2021, strongly suggesting that these infections resulted from immune evasion rather than waning immunity. Conclusion: Population-level evidence suggests that the Omicron variant is associated with substantial ability to evade immunity from prior infection. In contrast, there is no population-wide epidemiological evidence of immune escape associated with the Beta or Delta variants. This finding has important implications for public health planning, particularly in countries like South Africa with high rates of immunity from prior infection. Further development of methods to track reinfection risk during pathogen emergence, including refinements to assess the impact of waning immunity, account for vaccine-derived protection, and monitor the risk of multiple reinfections will be an important tool for future pandemic preparedness.

4.
Embase;
Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-327015

ABSTRACT

Omicron has been shown to be highly transmissible and have extensive evasion of neutralizing antibody immunity elicited by vaccination and previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. Omicron infections are rapidly expanding worldwide often in the face of high levels of Delta infections. Here we characterized developing immunity to Omicron and investigated whether neutralizing immunity elicited by Omicron also enhances neutralizing immunity of the Delta variant. We enrolled both previously vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the Omicron infection wave in South Africa soon after symptom onset. We then measured their ability to neutralize both Omicron and Delta virus at enrollment versus a median of 14 days after enrollment. Neutralization of Omicron increased 14-fold over this time, showing a developing antibody response to the variant. Importantly, there was an enhancement of Delta virus neutralization, which increased 4.4-fold. The increase in Delta variant neutralization in individuals infected with Omicron may result in decreased ability of Delta to re-infect those individuals. Along with emerging data indicating that Omicron, at this time in the pandemic, is less pathogenic than Delta, such an outcome may have positive implications in terms of decreasing the Covid-19 burden of severe disease.

5.
Embase;
Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-326897

ABSTRACT

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) epidemic in southern Africa has been characterised by three distinct waves. The first was associated with a mix of SARS-CoV-2 lineages, whilst the second and third waves were driven by the Beta and Delta variants respectively1–3. In November 2021, genomic surveillance teams in South Africa and Botswana detected a new SARS-CoV-2 variant associated with a rapid resurgence of infections in Gauteng Province, South Africa. Within three days of the first genome being uploaded, it was designated a variant of concern (Omicron) by the World Health Organization and, within three weeks, had been identified in 87 countries. The Omicron variant is exceptional for carrying over 30 mutations in the spike glycoprotein, predicted to influence antibody neutralization and spike function4. Here, we describe the genomic profile and early transmission dynamics of Omicron, highlighting the rapid spread in regions with high levels of population immunity.

6.
MEDLINE;
Preprint in English | MEDLINE | ID: ppcovidwho-325667

ABSTRACT

Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) infections are rapidly expanding worldwide, often in settings where the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) was dominant. We investigated whether neutralizing immunity elicited by Omicron infection would also neutralize the Delta variant and the role of prior vaccination. We enrolled 23 South African participants infected with Omicron a median of 5 days post-symptoms onset (study baseline) with a last follow-up sample taken a median of 23 days post-symptoms onset. Ten participants were breakthrough cases vaccinated with Pfizer BNT162b2 or Johnson and Johnson Ad26.CoV2.S. In vaccinated participants, neutralization of Omicron increased from a geometric mean titer (GMT) FRNT50 of 28 to 378 (13.7-fold). Unvaccinated participants had similar Omicron neutralization at baseline but increased from 26 to only 113 (4.4-fold) at follow-up. Delta virus neutralization increased from 129 to 790, (6.1-fold) in vaccinated but only 18 to 46 (2.5-fold, not statistically significant) in unvaccinated participants. Therefore, in Omicron infected vaccinated individuals, Delta neutralization was 2.1-fold higher at follow-up relative to Omicron. In a separate group previously infected with Delta, neutralization of Delta was 22.5-fold higher than Omicron. Based on relative neutralization levels, Omicron re-infection would be expected to be more likely than Delta in Delta infected individuals, and in Omicron infected individuals who are vaccinated. This may give Omicron an advantage over Delta which may lead to decreasing Delta infections in regions with high infection frequencies and high vaccine coverage.

7.
PubMed; 2021.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-296601

ABSTRACT

Background: By August 2021, South Africa experienced three SARS-CoV-2 waves;the second and third associated with emergence of Beta and Delta variants respectively. Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study during July 2020-August 2021 in one rural and one urban community. Mid-turbinate nasal swabs were collected twice-weekly from household members irrespective of symptoms and tested for SARS-CoV-2 using real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR). Serum was collected every two months and tested for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Results: Among 115,759 nasal specimens from 1,200 members (follow-up rate 93%), 1976 (2%) were SARS-CoV-2-positive. By rRT-PCR and serology combined, 62% (749/1200) of individuals experienced >=1 SARS-CoV-2 infection episode, and 12% (87/749) experienced reinfection. Of 662 PCR-confirmed episodes with available data, 15% (n=97) were associated with >=1 symptom. Among 222 households, 200 (90%) had >=1 SARS-CoV-2-positive individual. Household cumulative infection risk (HCIR) was 25% (213/856). On multivariable analysis, accounting for age and sex, index case lower cycle threshold value (OR 3.9, 95%CI 1.7-8.8), urban community (OR 2.0,95%CI 1.1-3.9), Beta (OR 4.2, 95%CI 1.7-10.1) and Delta (OR 14.6, 95%CI 5.7-37.5) variant infection were associated with increased HCIR. HCIR was similar for symptomatic (21/110, 19%) and asymptomatic (195/775, 25%) index cases (p=0.165). Attack rates were highest in individuals aged 13-18 years and individuals in this age group were more likely to experience repeat infections and to acquire SARS-CoV-2 infection. People living with HIV who were not virally supressed were more likely to develop symptomatic illness, and shed SARS-CoV-2 for longer compared to HIV-uninfected individuals. Conclusions: In this study, 85% of SARS-CoV-2 infections were asymptomatic and index case symptom status did not affect HCIR, suggesting a limited role for control measures targeting symptomatic individuals. Increased household transmission of Beta and Delta variants, likely contributed to successive waves, with >60% of individuals infected by the end of follow-up. Research in context: Evidence before this study: Previous studies have generated wide-ranging estimates of the proportion of SARS-CoV-2 infections which are asymptomatic. A recent systematic review found that 20% (95% CI 3%-67%) of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections remained asymptomatic throughout infection and that transmission from asymptomatic individuals was reduced. A systematic review and meta-analysis of 87 household transmission studies of SARS-CoV-2 found an estimated secondary attack rate of 19% (95% CI 16-22). The review also found that household secondary attack rates were increased from symptomatic index cases and that adults were more likely to acquire infection. As of December 2021, South Africa experienced three waves of SARS-CoV-2 infections;the second and third waves were associated with circulation of Beta and Delta variants respectively. SARS-CoV-2 vaccines became available in February 2021, but uptake was low in study sites reaching 5% fully vaccinated at the end of follow up. Studies to quantify the burden of asymptomatic infections, symptomatic fraction, reinfection frequency, duration of shedding and household transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from asymptomatically infected individuals have mostly been conducted as part of outbreak investigations or in specific settings. Comprehensive systematic community studies of SARS-CoV-2 burden and transmission including for the Beta and Delta variants are lacking, especially in low vaccination settings. Added value of this study: We conducted a unique detailed COVID-19 household cohort study over a 13 month period in South Africa, with real time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) testing twice a week irrespective of symptoms and bimonthly serology. By the end of the study in August 2021, 749 (62%) of 1200 individuals from 222 randomly sampled households in a rural and an urban community in South Africa had at least one confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, detected on rRT-PCR and/or serology, and 12% (87/749) experienced reinfection. Symptom data were analysed for 662 rRT-PCR-confirmed infection episodes that occurred >14 days after the start of follow-up (of a total of 718 rRT-PCR-confirmed episodes), of these, 15% (n=97) were associated with one or more symptoms. Among symptomatic indvidiausl, 9% (n=9) were hospitalised and 2% (n=2) died. Ninety percent (200/222) of included households, had one or more individual infected with SARS-CoV-2 on rRT-PCR and/or serology within the household. SARS-CoV-2 infected index cases transmitted the infection to 25% (213/856) of susceptible household contacts. Index case ribonucleic acid (RNA) viral load proxied by rRT-PCR cycle threshold value was strongly predictive of household transmission. Presence of symptoms in the index case was not associated with household transmission. Household transmission was four times greater from index cases infected with Beta variant and fifteen times greater from index cases infected with Delta variant compared to wild-type infection. Attack rates were highest in individuals aged 13-18 years and individuals in this age group were more likely to experience repeat infections and to acquire SARS-CoV-2 infection within households. People living with HIV (PLHIV) who were not virally supressed were more likely to develop symptomatic illness when infected with SARS-CoV-2, and shed SARS-CoV-2 for longer when compared to HIV-uninfected individuals. Implications of all the available evidence: We found a high rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection in households in a rural community and an urban community in South Africa, with the majority of infections being asymptomatic in individuals of all ages. Asymptomatic individuals transmitted SARS-CoV-2 at similar levels to symptomatic individuals suggesting that interventions targeting symptomatic individuals such as symptom-based testing and contact tracing of individuals tested because they report symptoms may have a limited impact as control measures. Increased household transmission of

8.
PubMed; 2021.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-296584

ABSTRACT

The emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant, first identified in South Africa, may compromise the ability of vaccine and previous infection (1) elicited immunity to protect against new infection. Here we investigated whether Omicron escapes antibody neutralization elicited by the Pfizer BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine in people who were vaccinated only or vaccinated and previously infected. We also investigated whether the virus still requires binding to the ACE2 receptor to infect cells. We isolated and sequence confirmed live Omicron virus from an infected person in South Africa. We then compared neutralization of this virus relative to an ancestral SARS-CoV-2 strain with the D614G mutation. Neutralization was by blood plasma from South African BNT162b2 vaccinated individuals. We observed that Omicron still required the ACE2 receptor to infect but had extensive escape of Pfizer elicited neutralization. However, 5 out of 6 of the previously infected, Pfizer vaccinated individuals, all of them with high neutralization of D614G virus, showed residual neutralization at levels expected to confer protection from infection and severe disease (2). While vaccine effectiveness against Omicron is still to be determined, these data support the notion that high neutralization capacity elicited by a combination of infection and vaccination, and possibly by boosting, could maintain reasonable effectiveness against Omicron. If neutralization capacity is lower or wanes with time, protection against infection is likely to be low. However, protection against severe disease, requiring lower neutralization levels and involving T cell immunity, would likely be maintained.

9.
Eurosurveillance ; 26(29):10, 2021.
Article in English | Web of Science | ID: covidwho-1341599

ABSTRACT

Background In 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. Methods We 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. Results Facility-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 reopening of schools and the easing of measures. Conclusion COVID-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.

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