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1.
Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21266109

Résumé

The rapid spread of the SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern (VOC) Gamma during late 2020 and early 2021 in Brazilian settings with high seroprevalence raised some concern about the potential role of reinfections in driving the epidemic. Very few cases of reinfection associated with the VOC Gamma, however, have been reported. Here we describe 25 cases of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection confirmed by real-time RT-PCR twice within months apart in Brazil. SARS-CoV-2 genomic analysis confirmed that individuals were primo-infected between March and December 2020 with distinct viral lineages, including B.1.1, B.1.1.28, B.1.1.33, B.1.195 and P.2, and then reinfected with the VOC Gamma between 3 to 12 months after primo-infection. The overall mean cycle threshold (Ct) value of the first (25.7) and second (24.5) episodes were roughly similar for the whole group and 14 individuals displayed mean Ct values < 25.0 at reinfection. Sera of 14 patients tested by plaque reduction neutralization test after reinfection displayed detectable neutralizing antibodies against Gamma and other SARS-CoV-2 variants (B.1.33, B.1.1.28 and Delta). All individuals have milder or no symptoms after reinfection and none required hospitalization. The present study demonstrates that the VOC Gamma was associated with reinfections during the second Brazilian epidemic wave in 2021 and raised concern about the potential infectiousness of reinfected subjects. Although individuals here analyzed failed to mount a long-term sterilizing immunity, they developed a high anti-Gamma neutralizing antibody response after reinfection that may provide some protection against severe disease.

2.
Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21265116

Résumé

The COVID-19 epidemic in Brazil experienced two major country-wide lineage replacements, the first driven by the lineage P.2, formerly classified as variant of interest (VOI) Zeta in late 2020 and the second by the variant of concern (VOC) Gamma in early 2021. To better understand how these SARS-CoV-2 lineage turnovers occurred in Brazil, we analyzed 11,724 high-quality SARS-CoV-2 whole genomes of samples collected in different country regions between September 2020 and April 2021. Our findings indicate that the spatial dispersion of both variants in Brazil was driven by short and long-distance viral transmission. The lineage P.2 harboring Spike mutation E484K probably emerged around late July 2020 in the Rio de Janeiro (RJ) state, which contributed with most ([~]50%) inter-state viral disseminations, and only became locally established in most Brazilian states by October 2020. The VOC Gamma probably arose in November 2020 in the Amazonas (AM) state, which was responsible for 60-70% of the inter-state viral dissemination, and the earliest timing of community transmission of this VOC in many Brazilian states was already traced to December 2020. We estimate that variant Gamma was 1.56-3.06 more transmissible than variant P.2 co-circulating in RJ and that the median effective reproductive number (Re) of Gamma in RJ and SP states (Re = 1.59-1.91) was lower than in AM (Re = 3.55). In summary, although the epicenter of the lineage P.2 dissemination in Brazil was the heavily interconnected Southeastern region, it displayed a slower rate of spatial spread than the VOC Gamma originated in the more isolated Northern Brazilian region. Our findings also support that the VOC Gamma was more transmissible than lineage P.2, although the viral Re of the VOC varied according to the geographic context.

3.
Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21264424

Résumé

The COVID-19 pandemic, a disease caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), emerged in 2019 and quickly spread worldwide. Genomic surveillance has become the gold standard methodology to monitor and study this emerging virus. The current deluge of SARS-CoV-2 genomic data being generated worldwide has put additional pressure on the urgent need for streamlined bioinformatics workflows for data analysis. Here, we describe a workflow developed by our group to process and analyze large-scale SARS-CoV-2 Illumina amplicon sequencing data. This workflow automates all the steps involved in SARS-CoV-2 genomic analysis: data processing, genome assembly, PANGO lineage assignment, mutation analysis and the screening of intrahost variants. The workflow presented here (https://github.com/dezordi/ViralFlow) is available through Docker or Singularity images, allowing implementation in laptops for small scale analyses or in high processing capacity servers or clusters. Moreover, the low requirements for memory and CPU cores makes it a versatile tool for SARS-CoV-2 genomic analysis.

4.
Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21263755

Résumé

The SARS-CoV-2 has infected almost 200 million people worldwide by July 2021 and the pandemic has been characterized by infection waves of viral lineages showing distinct fitness profiles. The simultaneous infection of a single individual by two distinct SARS-CoV-2 lineages provides a window of opportunity for viral recombination and the emergence of new lineages with differential phenotype. Several hundred SARS-CoV-2 lineages are currently well characterized but two main factors have precluded major coinfection/codetection analysis thus far: i) the low diversity of SARS-CoV-2 lineages during the first year of the pandemic which limited the identification of lineage defining mutations necessary to distinguish coinfecting viral lineages; and the ii) limited availability of raw sequencing data where abundance and distribution of intrasample/intrahost variability can be accessed. Here, we have put together a large sequencing dataset from Brazilian samples covering a period of 18 May 2020 to 30 April 2021 and probed it for unexpected patterns of high intrasample/intrahost variability. It enabled us to detect nine cases of SARS-CoV-2 coinfection with well characterized lineage-defining mutations. In addition, we matched these SARS-CoV-2 coinfections with spatio-temporal epidemiological data confirming their plausibility with the co-circulating lineages at the timeframe investigated. These coinfections represent around 0.61% of all samples investigated. Although our data suggests that coinfection with distinct SARS-CoV-2 lineages is a rare phenomenon, it is likely an underestimation and coinfection rates warrants further investigation. DATA SUMMARYThe raw fastq data of codetection cases are deposited on gisaid.org and correlated to gisaid codes: EPI_ISL_1068258, EPI_ISL_2491769, EPI_ISL_2491781, EPI_ISL_2645599, EPI_ISL_2661789, EPI_ISL_2661931, EPI_ISL_2677092, EPI_ISL_2777552, EPI_ISL_3869215. Supplementary data are available on https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.16570602.v1. The workflow code used in this study is publicly available on: https://github.com/dezordi/IAM_SARSCOV2.

5.
Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21263453

Résumé

The Amazonas was one of the most heavily affected Brazilian states by the COVID-19 epidemic. Despite a large number of infected people, particularly during the second wave associated with the spread of the Variant of Concern (VOC) Gamma (lineage P.1), SARS-CoV-2 continues to circulate in the Amazonas. To understand how SARS-CoV-2 persisted in a human population with a high immunity barrier, we generated 1,188 SARS-CoV-2 whole-genome sequences from individuals diagnosed in the Amazonas state from 1st January to 6th July 2021, of which 38 were vaccine breakthrough infections. Our study reveals a sharp increase in the relative prevalence of Gamma plus (P.1+) variants, designated as Pango Lineages P.1.3 to P.1.6, harboring two types of additional Spike changes: deletions in the N-terminal (NTD) domain (particularly{Delta} 144 or{Delta} 141-144) associated with resistance to anti-NTD neutralizing antibodies or mutations at the S1/S2 junction (N679K or P681H) that probably enhance the binding affinity to the furin cleavage site, as suggested by our molecular dynamics simulations. As lineages P.1.4 (S:N679K) and P.1.6 (S:P681H) expanded (Re > 1) from March to July 2021, the lineage P.1 declined (Re < 1) and the median Ct value of SARS-CoV-2 positive cases in Amazonas significantly decreases. Still, we found no overrepresentation of P.1+ variants among breakthrough cases of fully vaccinated patients (71%) in comparison to unvaccinated individuals (93%). This evidence supports that the ongoing endemic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the Amazonas is driven by the spread of new local Gamma/P.1 sub-lineages that are more transmissible, although not more efficient to evade vaccine-elicited immunity than the parental VOC. Finally, as SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread in human populations with a declining density of susceptible hosts, the risk of selecting new variants with higher infectivity are expected to increase.

6.
Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21257488

Résumé

The COVID-19 pandemics unfolded due to the widespread SARS-CoV-2 transmission reinforced the urgent need for affordable molecular diagnostic alternative methods for massive testing screening. We present the clinical validation of a pH-dependent colorimetric RT-LAMP (reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification) for SARS-CoV-2 detection. The method revealed a limit of detection of 19.3 {+/-} 2.7 viral genomic copies/L when using RNA extracted samples obtained from nasopharyngeal swabs collected in guanidine-containing viral transport medium. Typical RT-LAMP reactions were performed at 65 {o}C for 30 min. When compared to RT-qPCR, up to Ct value 32, RT-LAMP presented 97% (87.4-99.4% 95% CI) sensitivity and 100% (86.2-100%) specificity for SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection targeting N gene. No cross-reactivity was detected when testing other non-SARS-CoV virus, confirming high specificity. The test is compatible with primary RNA extraction free samples. We also demonstrated that colorimetric RT-LAMP can detect SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC) and variants of interest (VOI), such as variants occurring in Brazil named P.1, P.2, B.1.1.374 and B.1.1.371. The method meets point-of-care requirements and can be deployed in the field for high-throughput COVID-19 testing campaigns, especially in countries where COVID-19 testing efforts are far from ideal to tackle the pandemics. Although RT-qPCR is considered the gold standard for SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection, it requires expensive equipments, infrastructure and highly trained personnel. In contrast, RT-LAMP emerges as an affordable, inexpensive and simple alternative for SARS-CoV-2 molecular detection that can be applied to massive COVID-19 testing campaigns and save lives.

7.
Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21253956

Résumé

The global spread of new SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern underscore an urgent need of simple deployed molecular tools that can differentiate these lineages. Several tools and protocols have been shared since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they need to be timely adapted to cope with SARS-CoV-2 evolution. Although whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of the virus genetic material have been widely used, it still presents practical difficulties such as high cost, shortage of available reagents in the global market, need of a specialized laboratorial infrastructure and well-trained staff. These limitations result in genomic surveillance blackouts across several countries. Here we propose a rapid and accessible protocol based on Sanger sequencing of a single PCR fragment that is able to identify and discriminate all SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) identified so far, according to each characteristic mutational profile at the Spike-RBD region (K417N/T, E484K, N501Y, A570D). Twelve COVID-19 samples from Brazilian patients were evaluated for both WGS and Sanger sequencing: three from P.2, two from P.1 and seven from B.1.1 lineage. All results from the Sanger sequencing method perfectly matched the mutational profile of VOCs and non-VOCs described by WGS. In summary, this approach allows a much broader network of laboratories to perform molecular surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 VOCs and report results within a shorter time frame, which is of utmost importance in the context of rapid public health decisions in a fast evolving worldwide pandemic.

8.
Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21253946

Résumé

Mutations at both the receptor-binding domain (RBD) and the amino (N)-terminal domain (NTD) of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) glycoprotein can alter its antigenicity and promote immune escape. We identified that SARS-CoV-2 lineages circulating in Brazil with mutations of concern in the RBD independently acquired convergent deletions and insertions in the NTD of the S protein, which altered the NTD antigenic-supersite and other predicted epitopes at this region. These findings support that the ongoing widespread transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Brazil is generating new viral lineages that might be more resistant to neutralization than parental variants of concern.

9.
Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20171595

Résumé

The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in the human population has caused a huge pandemic that is still unfolding in many countries around the world. Multiple epicenters of the pandemic have emerged since the first pneumonia cases in Wuhan, first in Italy followed by the USA and Brazil. Up to now, Brazil is the second most affected country, however, genomic sequences of SARS-CoV-2 strains circulating in the country are restricted to some highly impacted states. Although the Pernambuco state, located in the Northeast Region, is the sixth most affected brazilian state and the second considering lethality rate, there is a lack of high quality genomic sequences from the strains circulating in this region. Here, we sequenced 38 strains of SARS-CoV-2 from patients presenting Covid-19 symptoms. Phylogenetic reconstructions revealed that three lineages were circulating in the state and 36 samples belong to B1.1 lineage. We detected two introductions from European countries and five clades, corroborating the community spread of the virus between different municipalities of the state. Finally, we detected that all except one strain showed the D614G spike protein amino acid change that may impact virus infectivity in human cells. Our study brought new light to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 strains in one of the most heavily impacted states of Brazil.

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