Topical Collection "SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19"

A topical collection in Viruses (ISSN 1999-4915). This collection belongs to the section "SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19".

Editors

Prof. Dr. Luis Martinez-Sobrido
E-Mail Website
Collection Editor
1. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14625, USA
2. Texas Biomedical Research Institute, San Antonio, TX 78245, USA
Interests: virology; vaccines; antivirals; influenza viruses; arenaviruses; Zika virus; coronavirus; SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; innate immunity; adaptive immunity; interferon; virus-host interactions
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Fernando Almazan Toral
E-Mail Website
Collection Editor
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, National Center for Biotechnology, Darwin 3, 28049 Madrid, Spain
Interests: virology; virus-host interaction; coronavirus; vaccines; antivirals; flavivirus; Zika virus
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

In December 2019, a previously unknown coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was isolated in Wuhan, China, from a patient with respiratory disease linked to potential contact with wild animals. The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans has resulted in the COVID-19 pandemic, with an alarming case fatality rate, posing a threat to human health and socioeconomic activities across the world of a magnitude unprecedented since the “Spanish flu” pandemic in 1918. Multinational efforts to develop vaccines have resulted in several candidates with excellent safety and efficacy profiles in human clinical trials, and large-scale vaccination campaigns were implemented early in 2021. There are currently three Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved vaccines approved for emergency use against SARS-CoV-2.

In this Topical Collection about SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19, we aim to cover all the aspects related to SARS-CoV-2 infection and/or COVID-19 disease, including virus–host interactions, viral infection, transmission, pathogenesis, antivirals, vaccines, neutralizing antibodies, immunity, innate and adaptive immune responses, prophylactics, therapeutics, reverse genetics, reporter viruses, and animal models.

Our goal is for this Topical Collection of manuscripts related to SARS-CoV-2 and associated COVID-19 disease to cover the latest investigations on this important human pathogen.

Prof. Dr. Luis Martinez-Sobrido
Dr. Fernando Almazan Toral
Collection Editors

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Keywords

  • COVID-19 disease
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • epidemiology and evolution
  • pneumonia
  • vaccine development
  • antiviral drug development
  • neutralizing antibodies
  • treatment
  • diagnosis
  • prevention, prognosis and therapeutics
  • clinical studies, medical studies and medicine
  • public health research
  • reverse genetics
  • reporter viruses
  • immunity
  • innate immunity
  • adaptive immunity
  • virus–host interactions
  • animal models

Published Papers (70 papers)

2022

Jump to: 2021

Article
Results of a European-Wide External Quality Assessment (EQA) Scheme for Serological Detection of Anti-SARS-CoV-2 (CoVimm)—Pitfalls of Routine Application
Viruses 2022, 14(8), 1662; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14081662 - 28 Jul 2022
Viewed by 251
Abstract
Background: During the last two years, a variety of assays for the serological detection of antibodies to the new SARS-CoV-2 virus have been launched and used as part of standard care in many laboratories. The pace with which these tests have been introduced [...] Read more.
Background: During the last two years, a variety of assays for the serological detection of antibodies to the new SARS-CoV-2 virus have been launched and used as part of standard care in many laboratories. The pace with which these tests have been introduced into routine care emphasizes the importance of quality measures for analytical methods, particularly with regard to the implications of results for clinical and epidemiologic decisions. Accuracy, reliability and comparability of analytical test results are thus essential, and here external quality assessment (EQA) is the most important quality assurance tool. It allows us to achieve harmonization of test methods as a prerequisite for a high standard of performance for laboratory and analytical techniques and their interpretation. Methods: This EQA scheme consisted of pre-characterized clinical biospecimens dedicated to the analysis of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG total antibodies and differentiation into spike protein-specific IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 (anti-S-SARS-CoV-2) and nucleocapsid-specific IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 (anti-N-SARS-CoV-2). Results: A total of 239 laboratories across Europe participated in this scheme, called CoVimm. In detail, 536 results for anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG, 431 results for anti-S-SARS-CoV-2 IgG, and 200 results for anti-N-SARS-CoV-2 IgG were reported. Based on the pre-defined thresholds, the success rates for the determination of anti-S-SARS-CoV-2 IgG and anti-N-SARS-CoV-2 IgG were 96% and 90%, respectively. Interestingly, only 64% of the participating laboratories successfully passed the EQA scheme for the determination of total anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG. Conclusions: This EQA revealed serious concerns regarding the reliability and appropriate use of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody assays in routine care. In addition to the wide heterogeneity of different assays used by participating laboratories, a lack of standardization and harmonization is also evident. This is of particular importance for reliable and clinically meaningful interpretation of test results. Full article
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Case Report
The Role of Lebanon in the COVID-19 Butterfly Effect: The B.1.398 Example
Viruses 2022, 14(8), 1640; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14081640 - 27 Jul 2022
Viewed by 259
Abstract
In the present study, we provide a retrospective genomic surveillance of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in Lebanon; we newly sequence the viral genomes of 200 nasopharyngeal samples collected between July 2020 and February 2021 from patients in different regions of Lebanon and from travelers [...] Read more.
In the present study, we provide a retrospective genomic surveillance of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in Lebanon; we newly sequence the viral genomes of 200 nasopharyngeal samples collected between July 2020 and February 2021 from patients in different regions of Lebanon and from travelers crossing the Lebanese–Syrian border, and we also analyze the Lebanese genomic dataset available at GISAID. Our results show that SARS-CoV-2 infections in Lebanon during this period were shaped by the turnovers of four dominant SARS-CoV-2 lineages, with B.1.398 being the first to thoroughly dominate. Lebanon acted as a dispersal center of B.1.398 to other countries, with intercontinental transmissions being more common than within-continent. Within the country, the district of Tripoli, which was the source of 43% of the total B.1.398 sequences in our study, was identified as being an important source of dispersal in the country. In conclusion, our findings exemplify the butterfly effect, by which a lineage that emerges in a small area can be spread around the world, and highlight the potential role of developing countries in the emergence of new variants. Full article
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Article
Network Pharmacology and Molecular Docking Elucidate the Underlying Pharmacological Mechanisms of the Herb Houttuynia cordata in Treating Pneumonia Caused by SARS-CoV-2
Viruses 2022, 14(7), 1588; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14071588 - 21 Jul 2022
Viewed by 391
Abstract
Used in Asian countries, including China, Japan, and Thailand, Houttuynia cordata Thumb (H. cordata; Saururaceae, HC) is a traditional herbal medicine that possesses favorable antiviral properties. As a potent folk therapy used to treat pulmonary infections, further research is required to [...] Read more.
Used in Asian countries, including China, Japan, and Thailand, Houttuynia cordata Thumb (H. cordata; Saururaceae, HC) is a traditional herbal medicine that possesses favorable antiviral properties. As a potent folk therapy used to treat pulmonary infections, further research is required to fully elucidate the mechanisms of its pharmacological activities and explore its therapeutic potential for treating pneumonia caused by SARS-CoV-2. This study explores the pharmacological mechanism of HC on pneumonia using a network pharmacological approach combined with reprocessing expression profiling by high-throughput sequencing to demonstrate the therapeutic mechanisms of HC for treating pneumonia at a systemic level. The integration of these analyses suggested that target factors are involved in four signaling pathways, including PI3K-Akt, Jak-STAT, MAPK, and NF-kB. Molecular docking and molecular dynamics simulation were applied to verify these results, indicating a stable combination between four metabolites (Afzelin, Apigenin, Kaempferol, Quercetin) and six targets (DPP4, ELANE, HSP90AA1, IL6, MAPK1, SERPINE1). These natural metabolites have also been reported to bind with ACE2 and 3CLpro of SARS-CoV-2, respectively. The data suggest that HC exerts collective therapeutic effects against pneumonia caused by SARS-CoV-2 and provides a theoretical basis for further study of the active drug-like ingredients and mechanism of HC in treating pneumonia. Full article
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Article
Predictive Models of within- and between-Species SARS-CoV-2 Transmissibility
Viruses 2022, 14(7), 1565; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14071565 - 19 Jul 2022
Viewed by 357
Abstract
Viruses from the Coronaviridae family have been reported to infect a large range of hosts, including humans. The latest human-infecting coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, turned into a pandemic and subtypes with different transmissibility have appeared since then. The SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) protein interacts with the [...] Read more.
Viruses from the Coronaviridae family have been reported to infect a large range of hosts, including humans. The latest human-infecting coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, turned into a pandemic and subtypes with different transmissibility have appeared since then. The SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) protein interacts with the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) host receptor, and thus, in silico models, based on the structural features of the SARS-CoV-2 S protein–ACE2 receptor complex, as well as ACE2 amino acid patterns, may be used to predict the within- and between-species transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 subtypes. Here, it is shown that at the beginning of the pandemic, the SARS-CoV-2 S protein was, as expected for a virus that just jumped the species barrier, ill-adapted to the human ACE2 receptor, and that the replacement of one SARS-CoV-2 variant by another is partially due to a better fitting of the S protein–human ACE2 complex. Moreover, it is shown that mutations that are predicted to lead to a better fit have increased in the population due to positive selection. It is also shown that the number of ACE2-interfacing residues is positively correlated with the transmissibility rate of SARS-CoV-2 variants. Finally, it is shown that the number of species that are susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2, and that could be a reservoir for this virus, is likely higher than previously thought. Full article
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Article
Description of a One-Year Succession of Variants of Interest and Concern of SARS-CoV-2 in Venezuela
Viruses 2022, 14(7), 1378; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14071378 - 24 Jun 2022
Viewed by 464
Abstract
Some of the lineages of SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus responsible for COVID-19, exhibit higher transmissibility or partial resistance to antibody-mediated neutralization and were designated by WHO as Variants of Interests (VOIs) or Concern (VOCs). The aim of this study was to monitor the [...] Read more.
Some of the lineages of SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus responsible for COVID-19, exhibit higher transmissibility or partial resistance to antibody-mediated neutralization and were designated by WHO as Variants of Interests (VOIs) or Concern (VOCs). The aim of this study was to monitor the dissemination of VOIs and VOCs in Venezuela from March 2021 to February 2022. A 614 nt genomic fragment was sequenced for the detection of some relevant mutations of these variants. Their presence was confirmed by complete genome sequencing, with a correlation higher than 99% between both methodologies. After the introduction of the Gamma VOC since the beginning of the year 2021, the variants Alpha VOC and Lambda VOI were detected as early as March 2021, at a very low frequency. In contrast, the Mu VOI, detected in May 2021, was able to circulate throughout the country. After the detection of the Delta VOC in June 2021, it became the predominant circulating variant. With the arrival of the Omicron VOC in December, this variant was able to displace the Delta one in less than one month. Full article
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Article
A Newly Engineered A549 Cell Line Expressing ACE2 and TMPRSS2 Is Highly Permissive to SARS-CoV-2, Including the Delta and Omicron Variants
Viruses 2022, 14(7), 1369; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14071369 - 23 Jun 2022
Viewed by 629
Abstract
New variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continue to emerge, causing surges, breakthrough infections, and devastating losses—underscoring the importance of identifying SARS-CoV-2 antivirals. A simple, accessible human cell culture model permissive to SARS-CoV-2 variants is critical for identifying and assessing [...] Read more.
New variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continue to emerge, causing surges, breakthrough infections, and devastating losses—underscoring the importance of identifying SARS-CoV-2 antivirals. A simple, accessible human cell culture model permissive to SARS-CoV-2 variants is critical for identifying and assessing antivirals in a high-throughput manner. Although human alveolar A549 cells are a valuable model for studying respiratory virus infections, they lack two essential host factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection: angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2). SARS-CoV-2 uses the ACE2 receptor for viral entry and TMPRSS2 to prime the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, both of which are negligibly expressed in A549 cells. Here, we report the generation of a suitable human cell line for SARS-CoV-2 studies by transducing human ACE2 and TMPRSS2 into A549 cells. We show that subclones highly expressing ACE2 and TMPRSS2 (“ACE2plus” and the subclone “ACE2plusC3”) are susceptible to infection with SARS-CoV-2, including the delta and omicron variants. These subclones express more ACE2 and TMPRSS2 transcripts than existing commercial A549 cells engineered to express ACE2 and TMPRSS2. Additionally, the antiviral drugs EIDD-1931, remdesivir, nirmatrelvir, and nelfinavir strongly inhibit SARS-CoV-2 variants in our infection model. Our data show that ACE2plusC3 cells are highly permissive to SARS-CoV-2 infection and can be used to identify anti-SARS-CoV-2 drugs. Full article
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Article
Time Trend in SARS-CoV-2 Seropositivity, Surveillance Detection- and Infection Fatality Ratio until Spring 2021 in the Tirschenreuth County—Results from a Population-Based Longitudinal Study in Germany
Viruses 2022, 14(6), 1168; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14061168 - 27 May 2022
Viewed by 664
Abstract
Herein, we provide results from a prospective population-based longitudinal follow-up (FU) SARS-CoV-2 serosurveillance study in Tirschenreuth, the county which was hit hardest in Germany in spring 2020 and early 2021. Of 4203 individuals aged 14 years or older enrolled at baseline (BL, June [...] Read more.
Herein, we provide results from a prospective population-based longitudinal follow-up (FU) SARS-CoV-2 serosurveillance study in Tirschenreuth, the county which was hit hardest in Germany in spring 2020 and early 2021. Of 4203 individuals aged 14 years or older enrolled at baseline (BL, June 2020), 3546 participated at FU1 (November 2020) and 3391 at FU2 (April 2021). Key metrics comprising standardized seroprevalence, surveillance detection ratio (SDR), infection fatality ratio (IFR) and success of the vaccination campaign were derived using the Roche N- and S-Elecsys anti-SARS-CoV-2 test together with a self-administered questionnaire. N-seropositivity at BL was 9.2% (1st wave). While we observed a low new seropositivity between BL and FU1 (0.9%), the combined 2nd and 3rd wave accounted for 6.1% new N-seropositives between FU1 and FU2 (ever seropositives at FU2: 15.4%). The SDR decreased from 5.4 (BL) to 1.1 (FU2) highlighting the success of massively increased testing in the population. The IFR based on a combination of serology and registration data resulted in 3.3% between November 2020 and April 2021 compared to 2.3% until June 2020. Although IFRs were consistently higher at FU2 compared to BL across age-groups, highest among individuals aged 70+ (18.3% versus 10.7%, respectively), observed differences were within statistical uncertainty bounds. While municipalities with senior care homes showed a higher IFR at BL (3.0% with senior care home vs. 0.7% w/o), this effect diminished at FU2 (3.4% vs. 2.9%). In April 2021 (FU2), vaccination rate in the elderly was high (>77.4%, age-group 80+). Full article
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Article
Impaired Vagal Activity in Long-COVID-19 Patients
Viruses 2022, 14(5), 1035; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14051035 - 13 May 2022
Viewed by 1451
Abstract
Long-COVID-19 refers to the signs and symptoms that continue or develop after the “acute COVID-19” phase. These patients have an increased risk of multiorgan dysfunction, readmission, and mortality. In Long-COVID-19 patients, it is possible to detect a persistent increase in D-Dimer, NT-ProBNP, and [...] Read more.
Long-COVID-19 refers to the signs and symptoms that continue or develop after the “acute COVID-19” phase. These patients have an increased risk of multiorgan dysfunction, readmission, and mortality. In Long-COVID-19 patients, it is possible to detect a persistent increase in D-Dimer, NT-ProBNP, and autonomic nervous system dysfunction. To verify the dysautonomia hypothesis in Long-COVID-19 patients, we studied heart rate variability using 12-lead 24-h ECG monitoring in 30 Long-COVID-19 patients and 20 No-COVID patients. Power spectral analysis of heart rate variability was lower in Long-COVID-19 patients both for total power (7.46 ± 0.5 vs. 8.08 ± 0.6; p < 0.0001; Cohens-d = 1.12) and for the VLF (6.84 ± 0.8 vs. 7.66 ± 0.6; p < 0.0001; Cohens-d = 1.16) and HF (4.65 ± 0.9 vs. 5.33 ± 0.9; p = 0.015; Cohens-d = 0.76) components. The LF/HF ratio was significantly higher in Long-COVID-19 patients (1.46 ± 0.27 vs. 1.23 ± 0.13; p = 0.001; Cohens-d = 1.09). On multivariable analysis, Long-COVID-19 is significantly correlated with D-dimer (standardized β-coefficient = 0.259), NT-ProBNP (standardized β-coefficient = 0.281), HF component of spectral analysis (standardized β-coefficient = 0.696), and LF/HF ratio (standardized β-coefficient = 0.820). Dysautonomia may explain the persistent symptoms in Long COVID-19 patients. The persistence of a procoagulative state and an elevated myocardial strain could explain vagal impairment in these patients. In Long-COVID-19 patients, impaired vagal activity, persistent increases of NT-ProBNP, and a prothrombotic state require careful monitoring and appropriate intervention. Full article
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Article
Efficacy of the Sentinox Spray in Reducing Viral Load in Mild COVID-19 and Its Virucidal Activity against Other Respiratory Viruses: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial and an In Vitro Study
Viruses 2022, 14(5), 1033; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14051033 - 12 May 2022
Viewed by 2017
Abstract
Sentinox (STX) is an acid-oxidizing solution containing hypochlorous acid in spray whose virucidal activity against SARS-CoV-2 has been demonstrated. In this paper, results of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) on the efficacy of STX in reducing viral load in mild COVID-19 patients (NCT04909996) [...] Read more.
Sentinox (STX) is an acid-oxidizing solution containing hypochlorous acid in spray whose virucidal activity against SARS-CoV-2 has been demonstrated. In this paper, results of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) on the efficacy of STX in reducing viral load in mild COVID-19 patients (NCT04909996) and a complementary in vitro study on its activity against different respiratory viruses are reported. In the RCT, 57 patients were randomized (1:1:1) to receive STX three (STX-3) or five (STX-5) times/day plus standard therapy or standard therapy only (controls). Compared with controls, the log10 load reduction in groups STX-3 and STX-5 was 1.02 (p = 0.14) and 0.18 (p = 0.80), respectively. These results were likely driven by outliers with extreme baseline viral loads. When considering subjects with baseline cycle threshold values of 20–30, STX-3 showed a significant (p = 0.016) 2.01 log10 reduction. The proportion of subjects that turned negative by the end of treatment (day 5) was significantly higher in the STX-3 group than in controls, suggesting a shorter virus clearance time. STX was safe and well-tolerated. In the in vitro study, ≥99.9% reduction in titers against common respiratory viruses was observed. STX is a safe device with large virucidal spectrum and may reduce viral loads in mild COVID-19 patients. Full article
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Article
Detection of SARS-CoV-2 Nucleocapsid, Spike, and Neutralizing Antibodies in Vaccinated Japanese
Viruses 2022, 14(5), 965; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14050965 - 05 May 2022
Viewed by 674
Abstract
Serological detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) nucleocapsid (N), spike (S), and neutralizing antibodies (Abs) is commonly undertaken to evaluate the efficacy of vaccination. However, the relative efficiency of different SARS-CoV-2 Ab detection systems has not been extensively investigated. Here, [...] Read more.
Serological detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) nucleocapsid (N), spike (S), and neutralizing antibodies (Abs) is commonly undertaken to evaluate the efficacy of vaccination. However, the relative efficiency of different SARS-CoV-2 Ab detection systems has not been extensively investigated. Here, we evaluated serological test systems in vaccinated Japanese. SARS-CoV-2 N, S, and neutralizing Abs in sera of 375 healthy subjects a mean 253 days after vaccination were assessed. The sensitivity of Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 S (Roche S) and Anti-SARS-CoV-2 S IgG (Fujirebio S) was 100% and 98.9%, respectively, with a specificity of 100% for both. The sensitivity of Anti-SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing Ab (MBL Neu) was 2.7%, and the specificity was 100%. Fujirebio S correlated with Roche S (rho = 0.9182, p = 3.97 × 10−152). Fujirebio S (rho = 0.1295, p = 0.0121) and Roche S (rho = 0.1232, p = 0.0170) correlated weakly with MBL Neu. However, Roche S did correlate with MBL Neu in patients with COVID-19 (rho = 0.8299, p = 1.01 × 10−12) and in healthy subjects more recently after vaccination (mean of 90 days, rho = 0.5306, p = 0.0003). Thus, the Fujirebio S and Roche S results were very similar, but neither correlated with neutralizing antibody titers by MBL Neu at a later time after vaccination. Full article
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Article
SARS-CoV-2 Variants in Paraguay: Detection and Surveillance with an Economical and Scalable Molecular Protocol
Viruses 2022, 14(5), 873; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14050873 - 22 Apr 2022
Viewed by 665
Abstract
SARS-CoV-2 variant detection relies on resource-intensive whole-genome sequencing methods. We sought to develop a scalable protocol for variant detection and surveillance in Paraguay, pairing rRT-PCR for spike mutations with Nanopore sequencing. A total of 201 acute-phase nasopharyngeal samples were included. Samples were positive [...] Read more.
SARS-CoV-2 variant detection relies on resource-intensive whole-genome sequencing methods. We sought to develop a scalable protocol for variant detection and surveillance in Paraguay, pairing rRT-PCR for spike mutations with Nanopore sequencing. A total of 201 acute-phase nasopharyngeal samples were included. Samples were positive for the SARS-CoV-2 N2 target and tested with the Spike SNP assay to detect mutations associated with the following variants: alpha (501Y), beta/gamma (417variant/484K/501Y), delta (452R/478K), and lambda (452Q/490S). Spike SNP calls were confirmed using amplicon (Sanger) sequencing and whole-genome (Nanopore) sequencing on a subset of samples with confirmed variant lineages. Samples had a mean N2 Ct of 20.8 (SD 5.6); 198/201 samples (98.5%) tested positive in the Spike SNP assay. The most common genotype was 417variant/484K/501Y, detected in 102/198 samples (51.5%), which was consistent with the P.1 lineage (gamma variant) in Paraguay. No mutations (K417 only) were found in 64/198 (32.3%), and K417/484K was identified in 22/198 (11.1%), consistent with P.2 (zeta). Seven samples (3.5%) tested positive for 452R without 478K, and one sample with genotype K417/501Y was confirmed as B.1.1.7 (alpha). The results were confirmed using Sanger sequencing in 181/181 samples, and variant calls were consistent with Nanopore sequencing in 29/29 samples. The Spike SNP assay could improve population-level surveillance for mutations associated with SARS-CoV-2 variants and inform the judicious use of sequencing resources. Full article
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Article
Early and Longitudinal Humoral Response to the SARS-CoV-2 mRNA BNT162b2 Vaccine in Healthcare Workers: Significance of BMI, Adipose Tissue and Muscle Mass on Long-Lasting Post-Vaccinal Immunity
Viruses 2022, 14(5), 868; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14050868 - 22 Apr 2022
Viewed by 659
Abstract
Background: This study aimed to investigate the early and longitudinal humoral response in Healthcare Workers (HCWs) after two doses of the BNT162b2 vaccine and to assess the association between metabolic and anthropometric parameters and the humoral response after vaccination. Methods: The study included [...] Read more.
Background: This study aimed to investigate the early and longitudinal humoral response in Healthcare Workers (HCWs) after two doses of the BNT162b2 vaccine and to assess the association between metabolic and anthropometric parameters and the humoral response after vaccination. Methods: The study included 243 fully vaccinated HCWs: 25.50% previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 (with prior history of COVID-19—PH) and 74.40%—uninfected, seronegative before the first vaccination (with no prior history of COVID-19—NPH). IgG antibodies were measured, and sera were collected: prior to the vaccination, 21 days after the first dose, and 14 days and 8 months after the second dose. Results: 21 days after the first dose, 90.95% of individuals were seropositive; 14 days after the second dose, persistent immunity was observed in 99.18% HCWs, 8 months after complete vaccination—in 61.73%. Statistical analysis revealed that HCWs with PH had a greater chance of maintaining a humoral response beyond eight months after vaccination. Increased muscle mass, decreased fat mass, and younger age may positively affect long-term immunity. Smokers have a reduced chance of developing immunity compared to non-smokers. Conclusions: Fully vaccinated HCWs with PH are more likely to be seropositive than fully inoculated volunteers with NPH. Full article
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Article
Delta Variant of SARS-CoV-2 Replacement in Brazil: A National Epidemiologic Surveillance Program
Viruses 2022, 14(5), 847; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14050847 - 20 Apr 2022
Viewed by 1009
Abstract
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused immeasurable impacts on the health and socioeconomic system. The real-time identification and characterization of new Variants of Concern (VOCs) are critical to comprehend its emergence and spread worldwide. In this sense, we carried out a national [...] Read more.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused immeasurable impacts on the health and socioeconomic system. The real-time identification and characterization of new Variants of Concern (VOCs) are critical to comprehend its emergence and spread worldwide. In this sense, we carried out a national epidemiological surveillance program in Brazil from April to October 2021. Genotyping by reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) and sequencing were performed to monitor the dynamics and dissemination of VOCs in samples from 15 federative units. Delta VOC was first detected on June 2021 and took sixteen weeks to replace Gamma. To assess the transmissibility potential of Gamma and Delta VOCs, we studied the dynamics of RT-qPCR cycle threshold (Ct) score in the dominance period of each variant. The data suggest that Delta VOC has a higher transmission rate than Gamma VOC. We also compared relevant symptom patterns in individuals infected with both VOCs. The Delta-infected subjects were less likely to have low oxygen saturation or fatigue, altered results on chest computed tomography, and a propensity for altered X-rays. Altogether, we described the replacement of Gamma by Delta, Delta enhanced transmissibility, and differences in symptom presentation. Full article
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Article
Investigations on SARS-CoV-2 Susceptibility of Domestic and Wild Animals Using Primary Cell Culture Models Derived from the Upper and Lower Respiratory Tract
Viruses 2022, 14(4), 828; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14040828 - 16 Apr 2022
Viewed by 874
Abstract
Several animal species are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection, as documented by case reports and serological and in vivo infection studies. However, the susceptibility of many animal species remains unknown. Furthermore, the expression patterns of SARS-CoV-2 entry factors, such as the receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme [...] Read more.
Several animal species are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection, as documented by case reports and serological and in vivo infection studies. However, the susceptibility of many animal species remains unknown. Furthermore, the expression patterns of SARS-CoV-2 entry factors, such as the receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), as well as transmembrane protease serine subtype 2 (TMPRSS2) and cathepsin L (CTSL), cellular proteases involved in SARS-CoV-2 spike protein activation, are largely unexplored in most species. Here, we generated primary cell cultures from the respiratory tract of domestic and wildlife animals to assess their susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Additionally, the presence of ACE2, TMPRSS2 and CTSL within respiratory tract compartments was investigated in a range of animals, some with unknown susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2. Productive viral replication was observed in the nasal mucosa explants and precision-cut lung slices from dogs and hamsters, whereas culture models from ferrets and multiple ungulate species were non-permissive to infection. Overall, whereas TMPRSS2 and CTSL were equally expressed in the respiratory tract, the expression levels of ACE2 were more variable, suggesting that a restricted availability of ACE2 may contribute to reduced susceptibility. Summarized, the experimental infection of primary respiratory tract cell cultures, as well as an analysis of entry-factor distribution, enable screening for SARS-CoV-2 animal reservoirs. Full article
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Article
Genome Profiling of SARS-CoV-2 in Indonesia, ASEAN and the Neighbouring East Asian Countries: Features, Challenges and Achievements
Viruses 2022, 14(4), 778; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14040778 - 08 Apr 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 731
Abstract
Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) has played a significant role in understanding the epidemiology and biology of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Here, we investigate the use of SARS-CoV-2 WGS in Southeast and East Asian countries as a genomic surveillance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nottingham–Indonesia Collaboration for Clinical [...] Read more.
Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) has played a significant role in understanding the epidemiology and biology of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Here, we investigate the use of SARS-CoV-2 WGS in Southeast and East Asian countries as a genomic surveillance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nottingham–Indonesia Collaboration for Clinical Research and Training (NICCRAT) initiative has facilitated collaboration between the University of Nottingham and a team in the Research Center for Biotechnology, National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), to carry out a small number of SARS-CoV-2 WGS in Indonesia using Oxford Nanopore Technology (ONT). Analyses of SARS- CoV-2 genomes deposited on GISAID reveal the importance of clinical and demographic metadata collection and the importance of open access and data sharing. Lineage and phylogenetic analyses of two periods defined by the Delta variant outbreak reveal that: (1) B.1.466.2 variants were the most predominant in Indonesia before the Delta variant outbreak, having a unique spike gene mutation N439K at more than 98% frequency, (2) Delta variants AY.23 sub-lineage took over after June 2021, and (3) the highest rate of virus transmissions between Indonesia and other countries was through interactions with Singapore and Japan, two neighbouring countries with a high degree of access and travels to and from Indonesia. Full article
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Article
Avidity of IgG to SARS-CoV-2 RBD as a Prognostic Factor for the Severity of COVID-19 Reinfection
Viruses 2022, 14(3), 617; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14030617 - 16 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 710
Abstract
The avidity index (AI) of IgG to the RBD of SARS-CoV-2 was determined for 71 patients with a mild (outpatient) course of COVID-19, including 39 primarily and 36 secondarily reinfected, and 92 patients with a severe (hospital) course of COVID-19, including 82 primarily [...] Read more.
The avidity index (AI) of IgG to the RBD of SARS-CoV-2 was determined for 71 patients with a mild (outpatient) course of COVID-19, including 39 primarily and 36 secondarily reinfected, and 92 patients with a severe (hospital) course of COVID-19, including 82 primarily and 10 secondarily infected. The AI was shown to correlate with the severity of repeated disease. In the group of outpatients with a mild course, the reinfected patients had significantly higher median AIs than those with primary infections (82.3% vs. 37.1%, p < 0.0001). At the same time, in patients with a severe course of COVID-19, reinfected patients still had low-avidity antibodies (median AI of 28.4% vs. 25% in the primarily infected, difference not significant, p > 0.05). This suggests that the presence of low-avidity IgG to RBD during reinfection is a negative prognostic factor, in which a patient’s risk of developing COVID-19 in a severe form is significantly increased. Thus, patients with IgG of low avidity (AI ≤ 40%) had an 89 ± 20.5% chance of a severe course of recurrent COVID-19, whereas the detection of high-avidity antibodies (AI ≥ 50%) gave a probability of 94 ± 7.9% for a mild course of recurrent disease (p < 0.05). Full article
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Case Report
Multiorgan and Vascular Tropism of SARS-CoV-2
Viruses 2022, 14(3), 515; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14030515 - 03 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 601
Abstract
Although the respiratory tract is the main target of SARS-CoV-2, other tissues and organs are permissive to the infection. In this report, we investigated this wide-spectrum tropism by studying the SARS-CoV-2 genetic intra-host variability in multiple tissues. The virological and histological investigation of [...] Read more.
Although the respiratory tract is the main target of SARS-CoV-2, other tissues and organs are permissive to the infection. In this report, we investigated this wide-spectrum tropism by studying the SARS-CoV-2 genetic intra-host variability in multiple tissues. The virological and histological investigation of multiple specimens from a post-mortem COVID-19 patient was performed. SARS-CoV-2 genome was detected in several tissues, including the lower respiratory system, cardio-vascular biopsies, stomach, pancreas, adrenal gland, mediastinal ganglion and testicles. Subgenomic RNA transcripts were also detected, in favor of an active viral replication, especially in testicles. Ultra-deep sequencing allowed us to highlight several SARS-CoV-2 mutations according to tissue distribution. More specifically, mutations of the spike protein, i.e., V341A (18.3%), E654 (44%) and H655R (30.8%), were detected in the inferior vena cava. SARS-CoV-2 variability can contribute to heterogeneous distributions of viral quasispecies, which may affect the COVID-19 pathogeny. Full article
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Article
Effect of Different Adjuvants on Immune Responses Elicited by Protein-Based Subunit Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 and Its Delta Variant
Viruses 2022, 14(3), 501; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14030501 - 28 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1159
Abstract
The global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has become more serious because of the continuous emergence of variants of concern (VOC), thus calling for the development of broad-spectrum vaccines with greater efficacy. Adjuvants [...] Read more.
The global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has become more serious because of the continuous emergence of variants of concern (VOC), thus calling for the development of broad-spectrum vaccines with greater efficacy. Adjuvants play important roles in enhancing the immunogenicity of protein-based subunit vaccines. In this study, we compared the effect of three adjuvants, including aluminum, nanoparticle manganese and MF59, on the immunogenicity of three protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidates, including RBD-Fc, RBD and S-trimer. We found that the nanoparticle manganese adjuvant elicited the highest titers of SARS-CoV-2 RBD-specific IgG, IgG1 and IgG2a, as well as neutralizing antibodies against infection by pseudotyped SARS-CoV-2 and its Delta variant. What is more, the nanoparticle manganese adjuvant effectively reduced the viral load of the authentic SARS-CoV-2 and Delta variant in the cell culture supernatants. These results suggest that nanoparticle manganese, known to facilitate cGAS-STING activation, is an optimal adjuvant for protein-based COVID-19 subunit vaccines. Full article
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Perspective
A Perspective on the Roles of Adjuvants in Developing Highly Potent COVID-19 Vaccines
Viruses 2022, 14(2), 387; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14020387 - 14 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 953
Abstract
Several countries have made unremitting efforts to develop an optimal vaccine in the fight against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). With the increasing occurrence of SARS-CoV-2 variants, current vaccines show decreased neutralizing activities, especially towards [...] Read more.
Several countries have made unremitting efforts to develop an optimal vaccine in the fight against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). With the increasing occurrence of SARS-CoV-2 variants, current vaccines show decreased neutralizing activities, especially towards the Omicron variant. In this context, adding appropriate adjuvants to COVID-19 vaccines can substantially reduce the number of required doses and improve efficacy or cross-neutralizing protection. We mainly focus on research progress and achievements associated with adjuvanted COVID-19 subunit and inactivated vaccines. We further compare the advantages and disadvantages of different adjuvant formulations in order to provide a scientific reference for designing an effective strategy for future vaccine development. Full article
Communication
Steep Decline in Binding Capability of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant (B.1.1.529) RBD to the Antibodies in Early COVID-19 Convalescent Sera and Inactivated Vaccine Sera
Viruses 2022, 14(2), 335; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14020335 - 07 Feb 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 928
Abstract
A new SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.529 was named by the WHO as Omicron and classified as a Variant of Concern (VOC) on 26 November 2021. Because this variant has more than 50 mutations, including 30 mutations on the spike, it has generated a lot [...] Read more.
A new SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.529 was named by the WHO as Omicron and classified as a Variant of Concern (VOC) on 26 November 2021. Because this variant has more than 50 mutations, including 30 mutations on the spike, it has generated a lot of concerns on the potential impacts of the VOC on COVID-19. Here through ELISA assays using the recombinant RBD proteins with sequences the same to that of SARS-CoV-2 WIV04 (lineage B.1), the Delta variant and the Omicron variant as the coating antigens, the binding capabilities between the RBDs and the antibodies in COVID-19 convalescent sera and vaccine sera after two doses of the inactivated vaccine produced by Sinopharm WIBP are compared with each other. The results showed that the Omicron variant may evade antibodies induced by the ancestral strain and by the inactivated vaccine, with significant reduction in the binding capability of its RBD much greater than that of the Delta variant. Full article
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Article
Comparison of SARS-CoV-2 Evolution in Paediatric Primary Airway Epithelial Cell Cultures Compared with Vero-Derived Cell Lines
Viruses 2022, 14(2), 325; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14020325 - 05 Feb 2022
Viewed by 1499
Abstract
SARS-CoV-2 can efficiently infect both children and adults, albeit with morbidity and mortality positively associated with increasing host age and presence of co-morbidities. SARS-CoV-2 continues to adapt to the human population, resulting in several variants of concern (VOC) with novel properties, such as [...] Read more.
SARS-CoV-2 can efficiently infect both children and adults, albeit with morbidity and mortality positively associated with increasing host age and presence of co-morbidities. SARS-CoV-2 continues to adapt to the human population, resulting in several variants of concern (VOC) with novel properties, such as Alpha and Delta. However, factors driving SARS-CoV-2 fitness and evolution in paediatric cohorts remain poorly explored. Here, we provide evidence that both viral and host factors co-operate to shape SARS-CoV-2 genotypic and phenotypic change in primary airway cell cultures derived from children. Through viral whole-genome sequencing, we explored changes in genetic diversity over time of two pre-VOC clinical isolates of SARS-CoV-2 during passage in paediatric well-differentiated primary nasal epithelial cell (WD-PNEC) cultures and in parallel, in unmodified Vero-derived cell lines. We identified a consistent, rich genetic diversity arising in vitro, variants of which could rapidly rise to near fixation within two passages. Within isolates, SARS-CoV-2 evolution was dependent on host cells, with paediatric WD-PNECs showing a reduced diversity compared to Vero (E6) cells. However, mutations were not shared between strains. Furthermore, comparison of both Vero-grown isolates on WD-PNECs disclosed marked growth attenuation mapping to the loss of the polybasic cleavage site (PBCS) in Spike, while the strain with mutations in Nsp12 (T293I), Spike (P812R) and a truncation of Orf7a remained viable in WD-PNECs. Altogether, our work demonstrates that pre-VOC SARS-CoV-2 efficiently infects paediatric respiratory epithelial cells, and its evolution is restrained compared to Vero (E6) cells, similar to the case of adult cells. We highlight the significant genetic plasticity of SARS-CoV-2 while uncovering an influential role for collaboration between viral and host cell factors in shaping viral evolution and ultimately fitness in human respiratory epithelium. Full article
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Brief Report
Spike Gene Evolution and Immune Escape Mutations in Patients with Mild or Moderate Forms of COVID-19 and Treated with Monoclonal Antibodies Therapies
Viruses 2022, 14(2), 226; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14020226 - 24 Jan 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1030
Abstract
We explored the molecular evolution of the spike gene after the administration of anti-spike monoclonal antibodies in patients with mild or moderate forms of COVID-19. Four out of the 13 patients acquired a mutation during follow-up; two mutations (G1204E and E406G) appeared as [...] Read more.
We explored the molecular evolution of the spike gene after the administration of anti-spike monoclonal antibodies in patients with mild or moderate forms of COVID-19. Four out of the 13 patients acquired a mutation during follow-up; two mutations (G1204E and E406G) appeared as a mixture without clinical impact, while the Q493R mutation emerged in two patients (one receiving bamlanivimab and one receiving bamlanivimab/etesevimab) with fatal outcomes. Careful virological monitoring of patients treated with mAbs should be performed, especially in immunosuppressed patients. Full article
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Article
Distinguishing Incubation and Acute Disease Stages of Mild-to-Moderate COVID-19
Viruses 2022, 14(2), 203; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14020203 - 20 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1321
Abstract
While numerous studies have already compared the immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 in severely and mild-to-moderately ill COVID-19 patients, longitudinal trajectories are still scarce. We therefore set out to analyze serial blood samples from mild-to-moderately ill patients in order to define the immune landscapes [...] Read more.
While numerous studies have already compared the immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 in severely and mild-to-moderately ill COVID-19 patients, longitudinal trajectories are still scarce. We therefore set out to analyze serial blood samples from mild-to-moderately ill patients in order to define the immune landscapes for differently progressed disease stages. Twenty-two COVID-19 patients were subjected to consecutive venipuncture within seven days after diagnosis or admittance to hospital. Flow cytometry was performed to analyze peripheral blood immune cell compositions and their activation as were plasma levels of cytokines and SARS-CoV-2 specific immunoglobulins. Healthy donors served as controls. Integrating the kinetics of plasmablasts and SARS-CoV-2 specific antibodies allowed for the definition of three disease stages of early COVID-19. The incubation phase was characterized by a sharp increase in pro-inflammatory monocytes and terminally differentiated cytotoxic T cells. The latter correlated significantly with elevated concentrations of IP-10. Early acute infection featured a peak in PD-1+ cytotoxic T cells, plasmablasts and increasing titers of virus specific antibodies. During late acute infection, immature neutrophils were enriched, whereas all other parameters returned to baseline. Our findings will help to define landmarks that are indispensable for the refinement of new anti-viral and anti-inflammatory therapeutics, and may also inform clinicians to optimize treatment and prevent fatal outcomes. Full article
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Article
Using an Administrative and Clinical Database to Determine the Early Spread of COVID-19 at the US Department of Veterans Affairs during the Beginning of the 2019–2020 Flu Season: A Retrospective Longitudinal Study
Viruses 2022, 14(2), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14020200 - 20 Jan 2022
Viewed by 879
Abstract
Background. Previous studies examining the early spread of COVID-19 have used influenza-like illnesses (ILIs) to determine the early spread of COVID-19. We used COVID-19 case definition to identify COVID-like symptoms (CLS) independently of other influenza-like illnesses (ILIs). Methods. Using data from Emergency Department [...] Read more.
Background. Previous studies examining the early spread of COVID-19 have used influenza-like illnesses (ILIs) to determine the early spread of COVID-19. We used COVID-19 case definition to identify COVID-like symptoms (CLS) independently of other influenza-like illnesses (ILIs). Methods. Using data from Emergency Department (ED) visits at VA Medical Centers in CA, TX, and FL, we compared weekly rates of CLS, ILIs, and non-influenza ILIs encounters during five consecutive flu seasons (2015–2020) and estimated the risk of developing each illness during the first 23 weeks of the 2019–2020 season compared to previous seasons. Results. Patients with CLS were significantly more likely to visit the ED during the first 23 weeks of the 2019–2020 compared to prior seasons, while ED visits for influenza and non-influenza ILIs did not differ substantially. Adjusted CLS risk was significantly lower for all seasons relative to the 2019–2020 season: RR15–16 = 0.72, 0.75, 0.72; RR16–17 = 0.81, 0.77, 0.79; RR17–18 = 0.80, 0.89, 0.83; RR18–19 = 0.82, 0.96, 0.81, in CA, TX, and FL, respectively. Conclusions. The observed increase in ED visits for CLS indicates the likely spread of COVID-19 in the US earlier than previously reported. VA data could potentially help identify emerging infectious diseases and supplement existing syndromic surveillance systems. Full article
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Article
Assessment of Inter-Laboratory Differences in SARS-CoV-2 Consensus Genome Assemblies between Public Health Laboratories in Australia
Viruses 2022, 14(2), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14020185 - 19 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 638
Abstract
Whole-genome sequencing of viral isolates is critical for informing transmission patterns and for the ongoing evolution of pathogens, especially during a pandemic. However, when genomes have low variability in the early stages of a pandemic, the impact of technical and/or sequencing errors increases. [...] Read more.
Whole-genome sequencing of viral isolates is critical for informing transmission patterns and for the ongoing evolution of pathogens, especially during a pandemic. However, when genomes have low variability in the early stages of a pandemic, the impact of technical and/or sequencing errors increases. We quantitatively assessed inter-laboratory differences in consensus genome assemblies of 72 matched SARS-CoV-2-positive specimens sequenced at different laboratories in Sydney, Australia. Raw sequence data were assembled using two different bioinformatics pipelines in parallel, and resulting consensus genomes were compared to detect laboratory-specific differences. Matched genome sequences were predominantly concordant, with a median pairwise identity of 99.997%. Identified differences were predominantly driven by ambiguous site content. Ignoring these produced differences in only 2.3% (5/216) of pairwise comparisons, each differing by a single nucleotide. Matched samples were assigned the same Pango lineage in 98.2% (212/216) of pairwise comparisons, and were mostly assigned to the same phylogenetic clade. However, epidemiological inference based only on single nucleotide variant distances may lead to significant differences in the number of defined clusters if variant allele frequency thresholds for consensus genome generation differ between laboratories. These results underscore the need for a unified, best-practices approach to bioinformatics between laboratories working on a common outbreak problem. Full article
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Article
The Petasites hybridus CO2 Extract (Ze 339) Blocks SARS-CoV-2 Replication In Vitro
Viruses 2022, 14(1), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14010106 - 07 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 785
Abstract
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), has spread worldwide, affecting over 250 million people and resulting in over five million deaths. Antivirals that are effective are still limited. The antiviral activities of the Petasites hybdridus CO2 extract [...] Read more.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), has spread worldwide, affecting over 250 million people and resulting in over five million deaths. Antivirals that are effective are still limited. The antiviral activities of the Petasites hybdridus CO2 extract Ze 339 were previously reported. Thus, to assess the anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity of Ze 339 as well as isopetasin and neopetasin as major active compounds, a CPE and plaque reduction assay in Vero E6 cells was used for viral output. Antiviral effects were tested using the original virus (Wuhan) and the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2. The antiviral drug remdesivir was used as control. Pre-treatment with Ze 339 in SARS-CoV-2-infected Vero E6 cells with either virus variant significantly inhibited virus replication with IC50 values of 0.10 and 0.40 μg/mL, respectively. The IC50 values obtained for isopetasin ranged between 0.37 and 0.88 μM for both virus variants, and that of remdesivir ranged between 1.53 and 2.37 μM. In conclusion, Ze 339 as well as the petasins potently inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication in vitro of the Wuhan and Delta variants. Since time is of essence in finding effective treatments, clinical studies will have to demonstrate if Ze339 can become a therapeutic option to treat SARS-CoV-2 infections. Full article
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Communication
SARS-CoV-2 T Cell Responses Elicited by COVID-19 Vaccines or Infection Are Expected to Remain Robust against Omicron
Viruses 2022, 14(1), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14010079 - 02 Jan 2022
Cited by 30 | Viewed by 4981
Abstract
Omicron, the most recent SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern (VOC), harbours multiple mutations in the spike protein that were not observed in previous VOCs. Initial studies suggest Omicron to substantially reduce the neutralizing capability of antibodies induced from vaccines and previous infection. However, its [...] Read more.
Omicron, the most recent SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern (VOC), harbours multiple mutations in the spike protein that were not observed in previous VOCs. Initial studies suggest Omicron to substantially reduce the neutralizing capability of antibodies induced from vaccines and previous infection. However, its effect on T cell responses remains to be determined. Here, we assess the effect of Omicron mutations on known T cell epitopes and report data suggesting T cell responses to remain broadly robust against this new variant. Full article
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Article
The Prevalence of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and Outcomes in Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19—A Study Based on Data from the Polish National Hospital Register
Viruses 2022, 14(1), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14010076 - 01 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 819
Abstract
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a serious complication of COVID-19. This study aimed to evaluate the prevalence of ARDS among patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Poland as well as to characterize clinical outcomes in patients hospitalized with COVID-19-associated ARDS. This is a [...] Read more.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a serious complication of COVID-19. This study aimed to evaluate the prevalence of ARDS among patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Poland as well as to characterize clinical outcomes in patients hospitalized with COVID-19-associated ARDS. This is a retrospective, secondary analysis of epidemiological data from 116,539 discharge reports on patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Poland between March and December 2020. The overall prevalence of ARDS was 3.6%, respectively 2.9% among females, and 4.4% among males (p < 0.001). Of the 4237 patients hospitalized with COVID-19-associated ARDS, 3764 deaths were reported (88.8%). Participants aged 60 years and over had more than three times higher odds of COVID-19-associated ARDS. Men had higher odds of COVID-19-associated ARDS than women (OR = 1.55; 95% CI: 1.45–1.65; p < 0.001). Patients with COVID-19 and diabetes had higher odds of COVID-19-associated ARDS (OR = 1.16; 95% CI: 1.03–1.30; p = 0.01). Among patients with COVID-19-associated ARDS, older age, male sex (OR = 1.27; 95% CI: 1.03–1.56; p = 0.02), and presence of cardiovascular diseases (OR = 1.26; 95% CI: 1.00–1.59; p = 0.048) were significantly associated with the risk of in-hospital death. Among patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Poland, the prevalence of ARDS was relatively low, but the in-hospital mortality rate in patients with COVID-19-associated ARDS was higher compared to other EU countries. Full article

2021

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Article
Symptom-Based Predictive Model of COVID-19 Disease in Children
Viruses 2022, 14(1), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14010063 - 30 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1374
Abstract
Background: Testing for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is neither always accessible nor easy to perform in children. We aimed to propose a machine learning model to assess the need for a SARS-CoV-2 test in children (<16 years old), depending [...] Read more.
Background: Testing for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is neither always accessible nor easy to perform in children. We aimed to propose a machine learning model to assess the need for a SARS-CoV-2 test in children (<16 years old), depending on their clinical symptoms. Methods: Epidemiological and clinical data were obtained from the REDCap® registry. Overall, 4434 SARS-CoV-2 tests were performed in symptomatic children between 1 November 2020 and 31 March 2021, 784 were positive (17.68%). We pre-processed the data to be suitable for a machine learning (ML) algorithm, balancing the positive-negative rate and preparing subsets of data by age. We trained several models and chose those with the best performance for each subset. Results: The use of ML demonstrated an AUROC of 0.65 to predict a COVID-19 diagnosis in children. The absence of high-grade fever was the major predictor of COVID-19 in younger children, whereas loss of taste or smell was the most determinant symptom in older children. Conclusions: Although the accuracy of the models was lower than expected, they can be used to provide a diagnosis when epidemiological data on the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is unknown. Full article
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Article
COVID-19: Multiorgan Dissemination of SARS-CoV-2 Is Driven by Pulmonary Factors
Viruses 2022, 14(1), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14010039 - 26 Dec 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1504
Abstract
Multi-organ failure is one of the common causes of fatal outcome in COVID-19 patients. However, the pathogenetic association of the SARS-CoV-2 viral load (VL) level with fatal dysfunctions of the lungs, liver, kidneys, heart, spleen and brain, as well as with the risk [...] Read more.
Multi-organ failure is one of the common causes of fatal outcome in COVID-19 patients. However, the pathogenetic association of the SARS-CoV-2 viral load (VL) level with fatal dysfunctions of the lungs, liver, kidneys, heart, spleen and brain, as well as with the risk of death in COVID-19 patients remains poorly understood. SARS-CoV-2 VL in the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, brain, spleen and lymph nodes have been measured by RT qPCR using the following formula: NSARS-CoV−2/NABL1 × 100. Dissemination of SARS-CoV-2 in 30.5% of cases was mono-organ, and in 63.9% of cases, it was multi-organ. The average SARS-CoV-2 VL in the exudative phase of diffuse alveolar damage (DAD) was 60 times higher than in the proliferative phase. The SARS-CoV-2 VL in the lungs ranged from 0 to 250,281 copies. The “pulmonary factors” of SARS-CoV-2 multi-organ dissemination are the high level of SARS-CoV-2 VL (≥4909) and the exudative phase of DAD. The frequency of SARS-CoV-2 dissemination to lymph nodes was 86.9%, heart–56.5%, spleen–52.2%, liver–47.8%, kidney–26%, and brain–13%. We found no link between the SARS-CoV-2 VL level in the liver, kidneys, and heart and the serum level of CPK, LDH, ALP, ALT, AST and Cr of COVID-19 patients. Isolated detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the myocardium of COVID-19 patients who died from heart failure is possible. The pathogenesis of COVID-19-associated multi-organ failure requires further research in a larger cohort of patients. Full article
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Article
Activity of Galidesivir in a Hamster Model of SARS-CoV-2
Viruses 2022, 14(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14010008 - 21 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1439
Abstract
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has claimed the lives of millions of people worldwide since it first emerged. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public health and the global economy has highlighted the medical need for the development of broadly acting interventions against [...] Read more.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has claimed the lives of millions of people worldwide since it first emerged. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public health and the global economy has highlighted the medical need for the development of broadly acting interventions against emerging viral threats. Galidesivir is a broad-spectrum antiviral compound with demonstrated in vitro and in vivo efficacy against several RNA viruses of public health concern, including those causing yellow fever, Ebola, Marburg, and Rift Valley fever. In vitro studies have shown that the antiviral activity of galidesivir also extends to coronaviruses. Herein, we describe the efficacy of galidesivir in the Syrian golden hamster model of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Treatment with galidesivir reduced lung pathology in infected animals compared with untreated controls when treatment was initiated 24 h prior to infection. These results add to the evidence of the applicability of galidesivir as a potential medical intervention for a range of acute viral illnesses, including coronaviruses. Full article
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Communication
A Novel High-Throughput Nanopore-Sequencing-Based Strategy for Rapid and Automated S-Protein Typing of SARS-CoV-2 Variants
Viruses 2021, 13(12), 2548; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13122548 - 19 Dec 2021
Viewed by 1098
Abstract
Rapid molecular surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 S-protein variants leading to immune escape and/or increased infectivity is of utmost importance. Among global bottlenecks for variant monitoring in diagnostic settings are sequencing and bioinformatics capacities. In this study, we aimed to establish a rapid and user-friendly [...] Read more.
Rapid molecular surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 S-protein variants leading to immune escape and/or increased infectivity is of utmost importance. Among global bottlenecks for variant monitoring in diagnostic settings are sequencing and bioinformatics capacities. In this study, we aimed to establish a rapid and user-friendly protocol for high-throughput S-gene sequencing and subsequent automated identification of variants. We designed two new primer pairs to amplify only the immunodominant part of the S-gene for nanopore sequencing. Furthermore, we developed an automated “S-Protein-Typer” tool that analyzes and reports S-protein mutations on the amino acid level including a variant of concern indicator. Validation of our primer panel using SARS-CoV-2-positive respiratory specimens covering a broad Ct range showed successful amplification for 29/30 samples. Restriction to the region of interest freed sequencing capacity by a factor of 12–13, compared with whole-genome sequencing. Using either the MinION or Flongle flow cell, our sequencing strategy reduced the time required to identify SARS-CoV-2 variants accordingly. The S-Protein-Typer tool identified all mutations correctly when challenged with our sequenced samples and 50 deposited sequences covering all VOCs (December 2021). Our proposed S-protein variant screening offers a simple, more rapid, and low-cost entry into NGS-based SARS-CoV-2 analysis, compared with current whole-genome approaches. Full article
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Article
Antibody-Dependent Enhancement of SARS-CoV-2 Infection of Human Immune Cells: In Vitro Assessment Provides Insight in COVID-19 Pathogenesis
Viruses 2021, 13(12), 2483; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13122483 - 11 Dec 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2445
Abstract
Patients with COVID-19 generally raise antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 following infection, and the antibody level is positively correlated to the severity of disease. Whether the viral antibodies exacerbate COVID-19 through antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) is still not fully understood. Here, we conducted in vitro assessment [...] Read more.
Patients with COVID-19 generally raise antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 following infection, and the antibody level is positively correlated to the severity of disease. Whether the viral antibodies exacerbate COVID-19 through antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) is still not fully understood. Here, we conducted in vitro assessment of whether convalescent serum enhanced SARS-CoV-2 infection or induced excessive immune responses in immune cells. Our data revealed that SARS-CoV-2 infection of primary B cells, macrophages and monocytes, which express variable levels of FcγR, could be enhanced by convalescent serum from COVID-19 patients. We also determined the factors associated with ADE, and found which showed a time-dependent but not viral-dose dependent manner. Furthermore, the ADE effect is not associated with the neutralizing titer or RBD antibody level when testing serum samples collected from different patients. However, it is higher in a medium level than low or high dilutions in a given sample that showed ADE effect, which is similar to dengue. Finally, we demonstrated more viral genes or dysregulated host immune gene expression under ADE conditions compared to the no-serum infection group. Collectively, our study provides insight into the understanding of an association of high viral antibody titer and severe lung pathology in severe patients with COVID-19. Full article
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Article
Iron Related Biomarkers Predict Disease Severity in a Cohort of Portuguese Adult Patients during COVID-19 Acute Infection
Viruses 2021, 13(12), 2482; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13122482 - 10 Dec 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1040
Abstract
Large variability in COVID-19 clinical progression urges the need to find the most relevant biomarkers to predict patients’ outcomes. We evaluated iron metabolism and immune response in 303 patients admitted to the main hospital of the northern region of Portugal with variable clinical [...] Read more.
Large variability in COVID-19 clinical progression urges the need to find the most relevant biomarkers to predict patients’ outcomes. We evaluated iron metabolism and immune response in 303 patients admitted to the main hospital of the northern region of Portugal with variable clinical pictures, from September to November 2020. One hundred and twenty-seven tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and 176 tested negative. Iron-related laboratory parameters and cytokines were determined in blood samples collected soon after admission. Demographic data, comorbidities and clinical outcomes were recorded. Patients were assigned into five groups according to severity. Serum iron and transferrin levels at admission were lower in COVID-19-positive than in COVID-19-negative patients. The levels of interleukin (IL)-6 and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1) were increased in COVID-19-positive patients. The lowest serum iron and transferrin levels at diagnosis were associated with the worst outcomes. Iron levels negatively correlated with IL-6 and higher levels of this cytokine were associated with a worse prognosis. Serum ferritin levels at diagnosis were higher in COVID-19-positive than in COVID-19-negative patients. Serum iron is the simplest laboratory test to be implemented as a predictor of disease progression in COVID-19-positive patients. Full article
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Article
COVID-19 Modulates Inflammatory and Renal Markers That May Predict Hospital Outcomes among African American Males
Viruses 2021, 13(12), 2415; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13122415 - 02 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 821
Abstract
Background and Objectives: African Americans and males have elevated risks of infection, hospitalization, and death from SARS-CoV-2 in comparison with other populations. We report immune responses and renal injury markers in African American male patients hospitalized for COVID-19. Methods: This was a single-center, [...] Read more.
Background and Objectives: African Americans and males have elevated risks of infection, hospitalization, and death from SARS-CoV-2 in comparison with other populations. We report immune responses and renal injury markers in African American male patients hospitalized for COVID-19. Methods: This was a single-center, retrospective study of 56 COVID-19 infected hospitalized African American males 50+ years of age selected from among non-intensive care unit (ICU) and ICU status patients. Demographics, hospitalization-related variables, and medical history were collected from electronic medical records. Plasma samples collected close to admission (≤2 days) were evaluated for cytokines and renal markers; results were compared to a control group (n = 31) and related to COVID-19 in-hospital mortality. Results: Among COVID-19 patients, eight (14.2%) suffered in-hospital mortality; seven (23.3%) in the ICU and one (3.8%) among non-ICU patients. Interleukin (IL)-18 and IL-33 were elevated at admission in COVID-19 patients in comparison with controls. IL-6, IL-18, MCP-1/CCL2, MIP-1α/CCL3, IL-33, GST, and osteopontin were upregulated at admission in ICU patients in comparison with controls. In addition to clinical factors, MCP-1 and GST may provide incremental value for risk prediction of COVID-19 in-hospital mortality. Conclusions: Qualitatively similar inflammatory responses were observed in comparison to other populations reported in the literature, suggesting non-immunologic factors may account for outcome differences. Further, we provide initial evidence for cytokine and renal toxicity markers as prognostic factors for COVID-19 in-hospital mortality among African American males. Full article
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Article
Potential of an Eco-Sustainable Probiotic-Cleaning Formulation in Reducing Infectivity of Enveloped Viruses
Viruses 2021, 13(11), 2227; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13112227 - 04 Nov 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2289
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply influenced sanitization procedures, and high-level disinfection has been massively used to prevent SARS-CoV-2 spread, with potential negative impact on the environment and on the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Aiming to overcome these concerns, yet preserving the effectiveness [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply influenced sanitization procedures, and high-level disinfection has been massively used to prevent SARS-CoV-2 spread, with potential negative impact on the environment and on the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Aiming to overcome these concerns, yet preserving the effectiveness of sanitization against enveloped viruses, we assessed the antiviral properties of the Probiotic Cleaning Hygiene System (PCHS), an eco-sustainable probiotic-based detergent previously proven to stably abate pathogen contamination and AMR. PCHS (diluted 1:10, 1:50 and 1:100) was tested in comparison to common disinfectants (70% ethanol and 0.5% sodium hypochlorite), in suspension and carrier tests, according with the European UNI EN 14476:2019 and UNI EN 16777:2019 standards. Human alpha- and beta-coronaviruses hCoV-229E and SARS-CoV-2, human herpesvirus type 1, human and animal influenza viruses, and vaccinia virus were included in the study. The results showed that PCHS was able to inactivate 99.99% of all tested viruses within 1–2 h of contact, both in suspension and on surface. Notably, while control disinfectants became inactive within 2 h after application, the PCHS antiviral action persisted up to 24 h post-application, suggesting that its use may effectively allow a continuous prevention of virus spread via contaminated environment, without worsening environmental pollution and AMR concern. Full article
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Article
Dynamics of Viral Shedding and Symptoms in Patients with Asymptomatic or Mild COVID-19
Viruses 2021, 13(11), 2133; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13112133 - 22 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1208
Abstract
We conducted a prospective cohort study at a community facility designated for the isolation of individuals with asymptomatic or mild COVID-19 between 10 January and 22 February 2021 to investigate the relationship of viral shedding with symptom changes of COVID-19. In total, 89 [...] Read more.
We conducted a prospective cohort study at a community facility designated for the isolation of individuals with asymptomatic or mild COVID-19 between 10 January and 22 February 2021 to investigate the relationship of viral shedding with symptom changes of COVID-19. In total, 89 COVID-19 adult patients (12 asymptomatic, 16 presymptomatic, 61 symptomatic) were enrolled. Symptom scores, the genomic RNA and subgenomic RNA of SARS-CoV-2 from saliva samples with a cell culture were measured. Asymptomatic COVID-19 patients had a similar viral load to symptomatic patients during the early course of the disease, but exhibited a rapid decrease in viral load with the loss of infectivity. Subgenomic RNA and viable virus by cell culture in asymptomatic patients were detected only until 3 days after diagnosis, and the positivity of the subgenomic RNA and cell culture in symptomatic patients gradually decreased in both from 40% in the early disease course to 13% at 10 days and 4% at 8 days after the symptom onset, respectively. In conclusion, symptomatic patients have a high infectivity with high symptom scores during the early disease course and gradually lose infectivity depending on the symptom. Conversely, asymptomatic patients exhibit a rapid decrease in viral load with the loss of infectivity, despite a similar viral load during the early disease course. Full article
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Article
Clusters of SARS-CoV-2 Lineage B.1.1.7 Infection after Vaccination with Adenovirus-Vectored and Inactivated Vaccines
Viruses 2021, 13(11), 2127; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13112127 - 22 Oct 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1528
Abstract
A SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 variant of concern (VOC) has been associated with increased transmissibility, hospitalization, and mortality. This study aimed to explore the factors associated with B.1.1.7 VOC infection in the context of vaccination. On March 2021, we detected SARS-CoV-2 RNA in nasopharyngeal samples [...] Read more.
A SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 variant of concern (VOC) has been associated with increased transmissibility, hospitalization, and mortality. This study aimed to explore the factors associated with B.1.1.7 VOC infection in the context of vaccination. On March 2021, we detected SARS-CoV-2 RNA in nasopharyngeal samples from 14 of 22 individuals vaccinated with a single-dose of ChAdOx1 (outbreak A, n = 26), and 22 of 42 of individuals with two doses of the CoronaVac vaccine (outbreak B, n = 52) for breakthrough infection rates for ChAdOx1 of 63.6% and 52.4% for CoronaVac. The outbreaks were caused by two independent clusters of the B.1.1.7 VOC. The serum of PCR-positive symptomatic SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals had ~1.8–3.4-fold more neutralizing capacity against B.1.1.7 compared to the serum of asymptomatic individuals. These data based on exploratory analysis suggest that the B.1.1.7 variant can infect individuals partially immunized with a single dose of an adenovirus-vectored vaccine or fully immunized with two doses of an inactivated vaccine, although the vaccines were able to reduce the risk of severe disease and death caused by this VOC, even in the elderly. Full article
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Communication
Viral Shedding among Re-Positive Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 Positive Individuals in Republic of Korea
Viruses 2021, 13(10), 2089; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13102089 - 17 Oct 2021
Viewed by 2386
Abstract
This study investigated the infectivity of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV-2) in individuals who re-tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA after recovering from their primary illness. We investigated 295 individuals with re-positive SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results and 836 of their close [...] Read more.
This study investigated the infectivity of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV-2) in individuals who re-tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA after recovering from their primary illness. We investigated 295 individuals with re-positive SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results and 836 of their close contacts. We attempted virus isolation in individuals with re-positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test results using cell culture and confirmed the presence of neutralizing antibodies using serological tests. Viral culture was negative in all 108 individuals with re-positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test results in whom viral culture was performed. Three new cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection were identified among household contacts using PCR. Two of the three new cases had had contact with the index patient during their primary illness, and all three had antibody evidence of past infection. Thus, there was no laboratory evidence of viral shedding and no epidemiological evidence of transmission among individuals with re-positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test results. Full article
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Article
Imbalanced Immune Response of T-Cell and B-Cell Subsets in Patients with Moderate and Severe COVID-19
Viruses 2021, 13(10), 1966; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13101966 - 30 Sep 2021
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 1176
Abstract
Background: The immunological changes associated with COVID-19 are largely unknown. Methods: Patients with COVID-19 showing moderate (n = 18; SpO2 > 93%, respiratory rate > 22 per minute, CRP > 10 mg/L) and severe (n = 23; SpO2 < 93%, [...] Read more.
Background: The immunological changes associated with COVID-19 are largely unknown. Methods: Patients with COVID-19 showing moderate (n = 18; SpO2 > 93%, respiratory rate > 22 per minute, CRP > 10 mg/L) and severe (n = 23; SpO2 < 93%, respiratory rate >30 per minute, PaO2/FiO2 ≤ 300 mmHg, permanent oxygen therapy, qSOFA > 2) infection, and 37 healthy donors (HD) were enrolled. Circulating T- and B-cell subsets were analyzed by flow cytometry. Results: CD4+Th cells were skewed toward Th2-like phenotypes within CD45RA+CD62L− (CM) and CD45RA–CD62L− (EM) cells in patients with severe COVID-19, while CM CCR6+ Th17-like cells were decreased if compared with HD. Within CM Th17-like cells “classical” Th17-like cells were increased and Th17.1-like cells were decreased in severe COVID-19 cases. Circulating CM follicular Th-like (Tfh) cells were decreased in all COVID-19 patients, and Tfh17-like cells represented the most predominant subset in severe COVID-19 cases. Both groups of patients showed increased levels of IgD-CD38++ B cells, while the levels of IgD+CD38− and IgD–CD38− were decreased. The frequency of IgD+CD27+ and IgD–CD27+ B cells was significantly reduced in severe COVID-19 cases. Conclusions: We showed an imbalance within almost all circulating memory Th subsets during acute COVID-19 and showed that altered Tfh polarization led to a dysregulated humoral immune response. Full article
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Communication
Lack of Evidence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Spillover in Free-Living Neotropical Non-Human Primates, Brazil
Viruses 2021, 13(10), 1933; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13101933 - 25 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1737
Abstract
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is responsible for the worst pandemic of the 21st century. Like all human coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 originated in a wildlife reservoir, most likely from bats. As SARS-CoV-2 has spread [...] Read more.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is responsible for the worst pandemic of the 21st century. Like all human coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 originated in a wildlife reservoir, most likely from bats. As SARS-CoV-2 has spread across the globe in humans, it has spilled over to infect a variety of non-human animal species in domestic, farm, and zoo settings. Additionally, a broad range of species, including one neotropical monkey, have proven to be susceptible to experimental infection with SARS-CoV-2. Together, these findings raise the specter of establishment of novel enzootic cycles of SARS-CoV-2. To assess the potential exposure of free-living non-human primates to SARS-CoV-2, we sampled 60 neotropical monkeys living in proximity to Manaus and São José do Rio Preto, two hotspots for COVID-19 in Brazil. Our molecular and serological tests detected no evidence of SAR-CoV-2 infection among these populations. While this result is reassuring, sustained surveillance efforts of wildlife living in close association with human populations is warranted, given the stochastic nature of spillover events and the enormous implications of SARS-CoV-2 spillover for human health. Full article
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Article
COVID-19 Infection in Pregnancy: PCR Cycle Thresholds, Placental Pathology, and Perinatal Outcomes
Viruses 2021, 13(9), 1884; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13091884 - 21 Sep 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1976
Abstract
(1) This study aimed to evaluate characteristics, perinatal outcomes, and placental pathology of pregnant women with or without SARS-CoV-2 infection in the context of maternal PCR cycle threshold (CT) values. (2) This was a retrospective case-control study in a third-level health [...] Read more.
(1) This study aimed to evaluate characteristics, perinatal outcomes, and placental pathology of pregnant women with or without SARS-CoV-2 infection in the context of maternal PCR cycle threshold (CT) values. (2) This was a retrospective case-control study in a third-level health center in Mexico City with universal screening by RT-qPCR. The association of COVID-19 manifestations, preeclampsia, and preterm birth with maternal variables and CT values were assessed by logistic regression models and decision trees. (3) Accordingly, 828 and 298 women had a negative and positive test, respectively. Of those positive, only 2.6% of them presented mild to moderate symptoms. Clinical characteristics between both groups of women were similar. No associations between CT values were found for maternal features, such as pre-gestational BMI, age, and symptomatology. A significantly higher percentage of placental fibrinoid was seen with women with low CTs (<25; p < 0.01). Regarding perinatal outcomes, preeclampsia was found to be significantly associated with symptomatology but not with risk factors or CT values (p < 0.01, aOR = 14.72). Moreover, 88.9% of women diagnosed with COVID-19 at <35 gestational weeks and symptomatic developed preeclampsia. (4) The data support strong guidance for pregnancies with SARS-CoV-2 infection, in particular preeclampsia and placental pathology, which need further investigation. Full article
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Article
Kinetics of Nucleocapsid, Spike and Neutralizing Antibodies, and Viral Load in Patients with Severe COVID-19 Treated with Convalescent Plasma
Viruses 2021, 13(9), 1844; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13091844 - 15 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1508
Abstract
COVID-19 is an ongoing pandemic with high morbidity and mortality. Despite meticulous research, only dexamethasone has shown consistent mortality reduction. Convalescent plasma (CP) infusion might also develop into a safe and effective treatment modality on the basis of recent studies and meta-analyses; however, [...] Read more.
COVID-19 is an ongoing pandemic with high morbidity and mortality. Despite meticulous research, only dexamethasone has shown consistent mortality reduction. Convalescent plasma (CP) infusion might also develop into a safe and effective treatment modality on the basis of recent studies and meta-analyses; however, little is known regarding the kinetics of antibodies in CP recipients. To evaluate the kinetics, we followed 31 CP recipients longitudinally enrolled at a median of 3 days post symptom onset for changes in binding and neutralizing antibody titers and viral loads. Antibodies against the complete trimeric Spike protein and the receptor-binding domain (Spike-RBD), as well as against the complete Nucleocapsid protein and the RNA binding domain (N-RBD) were determined at baseline and weekly following CP infusion. Neutralizing antibody (pseudotype NAb) titers were determined at the same time points. Viral loads were determined semi-quantitatively by SARS-CoV-2 PCR. Patients with low humoral responses at entry showed a robust increase of antibodies to all SARS-CoV-2 proteins and Nab, reaching peak levels within 2 weeks. The rapid increase in binding and neutralizing antibodies was paralleled by a concomitant clearance of the virus within the same timeframe. Patients with high humoral responses at entry demonstrated low or no further increases; however, virus clearance followed the same trajectory as in patients with low antibody response at baseline. Together, the sequential immunological and virological analysis of this well-defined cohort of patients early in infection shows the presence of high levels of binding and neutralizing antibodies and potent clearance of the virus. Full article
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Article
Just Seeing Is Not Enough for Believing: Immunolabelling as Indisputable Proof of SARS-CoV-2 Virions in Infected Tissue
Viruses 2021, 13(9), 1816; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13091816 - 13 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 951
Abstract
Background: There is increasing evidence that identification of SARS-CoV-2 virions by transmission electron microscopy could be misleading due to the similar morphology of virions and ubiquitous cell structures. This study thus aimed to establish methods for indisputable proof of the presence of SARS-CoV-2 [...] Read more.
Background: There is increasing evidence that identification of SARS-CoV-2 virions by transmission electron microscopy could be misleading due to the similar morphology of virions and ubiquitous cell structures. This study thus aimed to establish methods for indisputable proof of the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virions in the observed tissue. Methods: We developed a variant of the correlative microscopy approach for SARS-CoV-2 protein identification using immunohistochemical labelling of SARS-CoV-2 proteins on light and electron microscopy levels. We also performed immunogold labelling of SARS-CoV-2 virions. Results: Immunohistochemistry (IHC) of SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid proteins and subsequent correlative microscopy undoubtedly proved the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virions in the analysed human nasopharyngeal tissue. The presence of SARS-CoV-2 virions was also confirmed by immunogold labelling for the first time. Conclusions: Immunoelectron microscopy is the most reliable method for distinguishing intracellular viral particles from normal cell structures of similar morphology and size as virions. Furthermore, we developed a variant of correlative microscopy that allows pathologists to check the results of IHC performed first on routinely used paraffin-embedded samples, followed by semithin, and finally by ultrathin sections. Both methodological approaches indisputably proved the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virions in cells. Full article
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Article
One Health Investigation of SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Seropositivity among Pets in Households with Confirmed Human COVID-19 Cases—Utah and Wisconsin, 2020
Viruses 2021, 13(9), 1813; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13091813 - 12 Sep 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1991
Abstract
Approximately 67% of U.S. households have pets. Limited data are available on SARS-CoV-2 in pets. We assessed SARS-CoV-2 infection in pets during a COVID-19 household transmission investigation. Pets from households with ≥1 person with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 were eligible for inclusion from April–May 2020. [...] Read more.
Approximately 67% of U.S. households have pets. Limited data are available on SARS-CoV-2 in pets. We assessed SARS-CoV-2 infection in pets during a COVID-19 household transmission investigation. Pets from households with ≥1 person with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 were eligible for inclusion from April–May 2020. We enrolled 37 dogs and 19 cats from 34 households. All oropharyngeal, nasal, and rectal swabs tested negative by rRT-PCR; one dog’s fur swabs (2%) tested positive by rRT-PCR at the first sampling. Among 47 pets with serological results, eight (17%) pets (four dogs, four cats) from 6/30 (20%) households had detectable SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies. In households with a seropositive pet, the proportion of people with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 was greater (median 79%; range: 40–100%) compared to households with no seropositive pet (median 37%; range: 13–100%) (p = 0.01). Thirty-three pets with serologic results had frequent daily contact (≥1 h) with the index patient before the person’s COVID-19 diagnosis. Of these 33 pets, 14 (42%) had decreased contact with the index patient after diagnosis and none were seropositive; of the 19 (58%) pets with continued contact, four (21%) were seropositive. Seropositive pets likely acquired infection after contact with people with COVID-19. People with COVID-19 should restrict contact with pets and other animals. Full article
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Article
Dating the Common Ancestor from an NCBI Tree of 83688 High-Quality and Full-Length SARS-CoV-2 Genomes
Viruses 2021, 13(9), 1790; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13091790 - 08 Sep 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1438
Abstract
All dating studies involving SARS-CoV-2 are problematic. Previous studies have dated the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) between SARS-CoV-2 and its close relatives from bats and pangolins. However, the evolutionary rate thus derived is expected to differ from the rate estimated from sequence [...] Read more.
All dating studies involving SARS-CoV-2 are problematic. Previous studies have dated the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) between SARS-CoV-2 and its close relatives from bats and pangolins. However, the evolutionary rate thus derived is expected to differ from the rate estimated from sequence divergence of SARS-CoV-2 lineages. Here, I present dating results for the first time from a large phylogenetic tree with 86,582 high-quality full-length SARS-CoV-2 genomes. The tree contains 83,688 genomes with full specification of collection time. Such a large tree spanning a period of about 1.5 years offers an excellent opportunity for dating the MRCA of the sampled SARS-CoV-2 genomes. The MRCA is dated 16 August 2019, with the evolutionary rate estimated to be 0.05526 mutations/genome/day. The Pearson correlation coefficient (r) between the root-to-tip distance (D) and the collection time (T) is 0.86295. The NCBI tree also includes 10 SARS-CoV-2 genomes isolated from cats, collected over roughly the same time span as human COVID-19 infection. The MRCA from these cat-derived SARS-CoV-2 is dated 30 July 2019, with r = 0.98464. While the dating method is well known, I have included detailed illustrations so that anyone can repeat the analysis and obtain the same dating results. With 16 August 2019 as the date of the MRCA of sampled SARS-CoV-2 genomes, archived samples from respiratory or digestive tracts collected around or before 16 August 2019, or those that are not descendants of the existing SARS-CoV-2 lineages, should be particularly valuable for tracing the origin of SARS-CoV-2. Full article
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Article
Doxycycline Inhibition of a Pseudotyped Virus Transduction Does Not Translate to Inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 Infectivity
Viruses 2021, 13(9), 1745; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13091745 - 01 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1076
Abstract
The rapid spread of the pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus has created an unusual situation, with rapid searches for compounds to interfere with the biological processes exploited by the virus. Doxycycline, with its pleiotropic effects, including anti-viral activity, has been proposed as [...] Read more.
The rapid spread of the pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus has created an unusual situation, with rapid searches for compounds to interfere with the biological processes exploited by the virus. Doxycycline, with its pleiotropic effects, including anti-viral activity, has been proposed as a therapeutic candidate for COVID-19 and about twenty clinical trials have started since the beginning of the pandemic. To gain information on the activity of doxycycline against SARS-CoV-2 infection and clarify some of the conflicting clinical data published, we designed in vitro binding tests and infection studies with a pseudotyped virus expressing the spike protein, as well as a clinically isolated SARS-CoV-2 strain. Doxycycline inhibited the transduction of the pseudotyped virus in Vero E6 and HEK-293 T cells stably expressing human receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 but did not affect the entry and replication of SARS-CoV-2. Although this conclusion is apparently disappointing, it is paradigmatic of an experimental approach aimed at developing an integrated multidisciplinary platform which can shed light on the mechanisms of action of potential anti-COVID-19 compounds. To avoid wasting precious time and resources, we believe very stringent experimental criteria are needed in the preclinical phase, including infectivity studies with clinically isolated SARS-CoV-2, before moving on to (futile) clinical trials. Full article
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Article
Processing Hundreds of SARS-CoV-2 Samples with an In-House PCR-Based Method without Robotics
Viruses 2021, 13(9), 1712; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13091712 - 28 Aug 2021
Viewed by 916
Abstract
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has required the development of multiple testing systems to monitor and control the viral infection. Here, we developed a PCR test to screen COVID-19 infections that can process up to ~180 samples per day without the requirement of robotics. For [...] Read more.
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has required the development of multiple testing systems to monitor and control the viral infection. Here, we developed a PCR test to screen COVID-19 infections that can process up to ~180 samples per day without the requirement of robotics. For this purpose, we implemented the use of multichannel pipettes and plate magnetics for the RNA extraction step and combined the reverse transcription with the qPCR within one step. We tested the performance of two RT-qPCR kits as well as different sampling buffers and showed that samples taken in NaCl or PBS are stable and compatible with different COVID-19 testing systems. Finally, we designed a new internal control based on the human RNase P gene that does not require a DNA digestion step. Our protocol is easy to handle and reaches the sensitivity and accuracy of the standardized diagnostic protocols used in the clinic to detect COVID-19 infections. Full article
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Article
The Emergence of SARS-CoV-2 within the Dog Population in Croatia: Host Factors and Clinical Outcome
Viruses 2021, 13(8), 1430; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13081430 - 22 Jul 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1609
Abstract
Over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, there is growing evidence that SARS-CoV-2 infections among dogs are more common than previously thought. In this study, the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was investigated in two dog populations. The first group was comprised of 1069 [...] Read more.
Over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, there is growing evidence that SARS-CoV-2 infections among dogs are more common than previously thought. In this study, the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was investigated in two dog populations. The first group was comprised of 1069 dogs admitted to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital for any given reason. The second group included dogs that shared households with confirmed COVID-19 cases in humans. This study group numbered 78 dogs. In COVID-19 infected households, 43.9% tested ELISA positive, and neutralising antibodies were detected in 25.64% of dogs. Those data are comparable with the secondary attack rate in the human population. With 14.69% of dogs in the general population testing ELISA positive, there was a surge of SARS-CoV-2 infections within the dog population amid the second wave of the pandemic. Noticeably seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in the dog and the human population did not differ at the end of the study period. Male sex, breed and age were identified as significant risk factors. This study gives strong evidence that while acute dog infections are mostly asymptomatic, they can pose a significant risk to dog health. Due to the retrospective nature of this study, samples for viral isolation and PCR were unavailable. Still, seropositive dogs had a 1.97 times greater risk for developing central nervous symptoms. Full article
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Article
Viral Load and Patterns of SARS-CoV-2 Dissemination to the Lungs, Mediastinal Lymph Nodes, and Spleen of Patients with COVID-19 Associated Lymphopenia
Viruses 2021, 13(7), 1410; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13071410 - 20 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2026
Abstract
Lymphopenia is a frequent hematological manifestation, associated with a severe course of COVID-19, with an insufficiently understood pathogenesis. We present molecular genetic immunohistochemical, and electron microscopic data on SARS-CoV-2 dissemination and viral load (VL) in lungs, mediastinum lymph nodes, and the spleen of [...] Read more.
Lymphopenia is a frequent hematological manifestation, associated with a severe course of COVID-19, with an insufficiently understood pathogenesis. We present molecular genetic immunohistochemical, and electron microscopic data on SARS-CoV-2 dissemination and viral load (VL) in lungs, mediastinum lymph nodes, and the spleen of 36 patients who died from COVID-19. Lymphopenia <1 × 109/L was observed in 23 of 36 (63.8%) patients. In 12 of 36 cases (33%) SARS-CoV-2 was found in lung tissues only with a median VL of 239 copies (range 18–1952) SARS-CoV-2 cDNA per 100 copies of ABL1. Histomorphological changes corresponding to bronchopneumonia and the proliferative phase of DAD were observed in these cases. SARS-CoV-2 dissemination into the lungs, lymph nodes, and spleen was detected in 23 of 36 patients (58.4%) and was associated with the exudative phase of DAD in most of these cases. The median VL in the lungs was 12,116 copies (range 810–250281), lymph nodes—832 copies (range 96–11586), and spleen—71.5 copies (range 0–2899). SARS-CoV-2 in all cases belonged to the 19A strain. A immunohistochemical study revealed SARS-CoV-2 proteins in pneumocytes, alveolar macrophages, and bronchiolar epithelial cells in lung tissue, sinus histiocytes of lymph nodes, as well as cells of the Billroth pulp cords and spleen capsule. SARS-CoV-2 particles were detected by transmission electron microscopy in the cytoplasm of the endothelial cell, macrophages, and lymphocytes. The infection of lymphocytes with SARS-CoV-2 that we discovered for the first time may indicate a possible link between lymphopenia and SARS-CoV-2-mediated cytotoxic effect. Full article
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Case Report
First Detection of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 Variant of Concern in an Asymptomatic Dog in Spain
Viruses 2021, 13(7), 1379; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13071379 - 15 Jul 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2108
Abstract
Natural SARS-CoV-2 infection in pets has been widely documented during the last year. Although the majority of reports suggested that dogs’ susceptibility to the infection is low, little is known about viral pathogenicity and transmissibility in the case of variants of concern, such [...] Read more.
Natural SARS-CoV-2 infection in pets has been widely documented during the last year. Although the majority of reports suggested that dogs’ susceptibility to the infection is low, little is known about viral pathogenicity and transmissibility in the case of variants of concern, such as B.1.1.7 in this species. Here, as part of a large-scale study on SARS-CoV-2 prevalence in pets in Spain, we have detected the B.1.1.7 variant of concern (VOC) in a dog whose owners were infected with SARS-CoV-2. The animal did not present any symptoms, but viral loads were high in the nasal and rectal swabs. In addition, viral isolation was possible from both swabs, demonstrating that the dog was shedding infectious virus. Seroconversion occurred 23 days after the first sampling. This study documents the first detection of B.1.1.7 VOC in a dog in Spain and emphasizes the importance of performing active surveillance and genomic investigation on infected animals. Full article
Communication
Serum Neutralizing Activity against B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1 SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients
Viruses 2021, 13(7), 1347; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13071347 - 12 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1289
Abstract
The recent spreading of new SARS-CoV-2 variants, carrying several mutations in the spike protein, could impact immune protection elicited by natural infection or conferred by vaccination. In this study, we evaluated the neutralizing activity against the viral variants that emerged in the United [...] Read more.
The recent spreading of new SARS-CoV-2 variants, carrying several mutations in the spike protein, could impact immune protection elicited by natural infection or conferred by vaccination. In this study, we evaluated the neutralizing activity against the viral variants that emerged in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7), Brazil (P.1), and South Africa (B.1.351) in human serum samples from hospitalized patients infected by SARS-CoV-2 during the first pandemic wave in Italy in 2020. Of the patients studied, 59.5% showed a decrease (≥2 fold) in neutralizing antibody titer against B.1.1.7, 83.3% against P.1, and 90.5% against B.1.351 with respect to the original strain. The reduction in antibody titers against all analyzed variants, and in particular P.1 and B.1.351, suggests that previous symptomatic infection might be not fully protective against exposure to SARS-CoV-2 variants carrying a set of relevant spike mutations. Full article
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Article
Previous SARS-CoV-2 Infection Increases B.1.1.7 Cross-Neutralization by Vaccinated Individuals
Viruses 2021, 13(6), 1135; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13061135 - 12 Jun 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2013
Abstract
With the spread of new variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), there is a need to assess the protection conferred by both previous infections and current vaccination. Here we tested the neutralizing activity of infected and/or vaccinated individuals against pseudoviruses [...] Read more.
With the spread of new variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), there is a need to assess the protection conferred by both previous infections and current vaccination. Here we tested the neutralizing activity of infected and/or vaccinated individuals against pseudoviruses expressing the spike of the original SARS-CoV-2 isolate Wuhan-Hu-1 (WH1), the D614G mutant and the B.1.1.7 variant. Our data show that parameters of natural infection (time from infection and nature of the infecting variant) determined cross-neutralization. Uninfected vaccinees showed a small reduction in neutralization against the B.1.1.7 variant compared to both the WH1 strain and the D614G mutant. Interestingly, upon vaccination, previously infected individuals developed more robust neutralizing responses against B.1.1.7, suggesting that vaccines can boost the neutralization breadth conferred by natural infection. Full article
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Article
Full-Length Computational Model of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein and Its Implications for a Viral Membrane Fusion Mechanism
Viruses 2021, 13(6), 1126; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13061126 - 11 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2353
Abstract
The SARS-CoV-2 virus has now become one of the greatest causes of infectious death and morbidity since the 1918 flu pandemic. Substantial and unprecedented progress has been made in the elucidation of the viral infection process in a short time; however, our understanding [...] Read more.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus has now become one of the greatest causes of infectious death and morbidity since the 1918 flu pandemic. Substantial and unprecedented progress has been made in the elucidation of the viral infection process in a short time; however, our understanding of the structure–function dynamics of the spike protein during the membrane fusion process and viral uptake remains incomplete. Employing computational approaches, we use full-length structural models of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein integrating Cryo-EM images and biophysical properties, which fill the gaps in our understanding. We propose a membrane fusion model incorporating structural transitions associated with the proteolytic processing of the spike protein, which initiates and regulates a series of events to facilitate membrane fusion and viral genome uptake. The membrane fusion mechanism highlights the notable role of the S1 subunit and eventual mature spike protein uptake through the host membrane. Our comprehensive view accounts for distinct neutralizing antibody binding effects targeting the spike protein and the enhanced infectivity of the SARS-CoV-2 variant. Full article
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Article
Estimates and Determinants of SARS-Cov-2 Seroprevalence and Infection Fatality Ratio Using Latent Class Analysis: The Population-Based Tirschenreuth Study in the Hardest-Hit German County in Spring 2020
Viruses 2021, 13(6), 1118; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13061118 - 10 Jun 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 1991
Abstract
SARS-CoV-2 infection fatality ratios (IFR) remain controversially discussed with implications for political measures. The German county of Tirschenreuth suffered a severe SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in spring 2020, with particularly high case fatality ratio (CFR). To estimate seroprevalence, underreported infections, and IFR for the Tirschenreuth [...] Read more.
SARS-CoV-2 infection fatality ratios (IFR) remain controversially discussed with implications for political measures. The German county of Tirschenreuth suffered a severe SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in spring 2020, with particularly high case fatality ratio (CFR). To estimate seroprevalence, underreported infections, and IFR for the Tirschenreuth population aged ≥14 years in June/July 2020, we conducted a population-based study including home visits for the elderly, and analyzed 4203 participants for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies via three antibody tests. Latent class analysis yielded 8.6% standardized county-wide seroprevalence, a factor of underreported infections of 5.0, and 2.5% overall IFR. Seroprevalence was two-fold higher among medical workers and one third among current smokers with similar proportions of registered infections. While seroprevalence did not show an age-trend, the factor of underreported infections was 12.2 in the young versus 1.7 for ≥85-year-old. Age-specific IFRs were <0.5% below 60 years of age, 1.0% for age 60–69, and 13.2% for age 70+. Senior care homes accounted for 45% of COVID-19-related deaths, reflected by an IFR of 7.5% among individuals aged 70+ and an overall IFR of 1.4% when excluding senior care home residents from our computation. Our data underscore senior care home infections as key determinant of IFR additionally to age, insufficient targeted testing in the young, and the need for further investigations on behavioral or molecular causes of the fewer infections among current smokers. Full article
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Article
Prevalence, Persistence, and Factors Associated with SARS-CoV-2 IgG Seropositivity in a Large Cohort of Healthcare Workers in a Tertiary Care University Hospital in Northern Italy
Viruses 2021, 13(6), 1064; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13061064 - 03 Jun 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1589
Abstract
This observational study evaluated SARS-CoV-2 IgG seroprevalence and related clinical, demographic, and occupational factors among workers at the largest tertiary care University-Hospital of Northwestern Italy and the University of Turin after the first pandemic wave of March–April 2020. Overall, about 10,000 individuals were [...] Read more.
This observational study evaluated SARS-CoV-2 IgG seroprevalence and related clinical, demographic, and occupational factors among workers at the largest tertiary care University-Hospital of Northwestern Italy and the University of Turin after the first pandemic wave of March–April 2020. Overall, about 10,000 individuals were tested; seropositive subjects were retested after 5 months to evaluate antibodies waning. Among 8769 hospital workers, seroprevalence was 7.6%, without significant differences related to job profile; among 1185 University workers, 3.3%. Self-reporting of COVID-19 suspected symptoms was significantly associated with positivity (Odds Ratio (OR) 2.07, 95%CI: 1.76–2.44), although 27% of seropositive subjects reported no previous symptom. At multivariable analysis, contacts at work resulted in an increased risk of 69%, or 24% for working in a COVID ward; contacts in the household evidenced the highest risk, up to more than five-fold (OR 5.31, 95%CI: 4.12–6.85). Compared to never smokers, being active smokers was inversely associated with seroprevalence (OR 0.60, 95%CI: 0.48–0.76). After 5 months, 85% of previously positive subjects still tested positive. The frequency of SARS-COV-2 infection among Health Care Workers was comparable with that observed in surveys performed in Northern Italy and Europe after the first pandemic wave. This study confirms that infection frequently occurred as asymptomatic and underlines the importance of household exposure, seroprevalence (OR 0.60, 95%CI: 0.48–0.76). Full article
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Article
Correlating qRT-PCR, dPCR and Viral Titration for the Identification and Quantification of SARS-CoV-2: A New Approach for Infection Management
Viruses 2021, 13(6), 1022; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13061022 - 28 May 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2014
Abstract
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was first identified in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 and is the causative agent of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) represents the gold standard for diagnostic assays even if [...] Read more.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was first identified in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 and is the causative agent of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) represents the gold standard for diagnostic assays even if it cannot precisely quantify viral RNA copies. Thus, we decided to compare qRT-PCR with digital polymerase chain reaction (dPCR), which is able to give an accurate number of RNA copies that can be found in a specimen. However, the aforementioned methods are not capable to discriminate if the detected RNA is infectious or not. For this purpose, it is necessary to perform an endpoint titration on cell cultures, which is largely used in the research field and provides a tissue culture infecting dose per mL (TCID50/mL) value. Both research and diagnostics call for a model that allows the comparison between the results obtained employing different analytical methods. The aim of this study is to define a comparison among two qRT-PCR protocols (one with preliminary RNA extraction and purification and an extraction-free qRT-PCR), a dPCR and a titration on cell cultures. The resulting correlations yield a faithful estimation of the total number of RNA copies and of the infectious viral burden from a Ct value obtained with diagnostic routine tests. All these estimations take into consideration methodological errors linked to the qRT-PCR, dPCR and titration assays. Full article
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Article
COVID-19 Severity Potentially Modulated by Cardiovascular-Disease-Associated Immune Dysregulation
Viruses 2021, 13(6), 1018; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13061018 - 28 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1402
Abstract
Patients with underlying cardiovascular conditions are particularly vulnerable to severe COVID-19. In this project, we aimed to characterize similarities in dysregulated immune pathways between COVID-19 patients and patients with cardiomyopathy, venous thromboembolism (VTE), or coronary artery disease (CAD). We hypothesized that these similarly [...] Read more.
Patients with underlying cardiovascular conditions are particularly vulnerable to severe COVID-19. In this project, we aimed to characterize similarities in dysregulated immune pathways between COVID-19 patients and patients with cardiomyopathy, venous thromboembolism (VTE), or coronary artery disease (CAD). We hypothesized that these similarly dysregulated pathways may be critical to how cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) exacerbate COVID-19. To evaluate immune dysregulation in different diseases, we used four separate datasets, including RNA-sequencing data from human left ventricular cardiac muscle samples of patients with dilated or ischemic cardiomyopathy and healthy controls; RNA-sequencing data of whole blood samples from patients with single or recurrent event VTE and healthy controls; RNA-sequencing data of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from patients with and without obstructive CAD; and RNA-sequencing data of platelets from COVID-19 subjects and healthy controls. We found similar immune dysregulation profiles between patients with CVDs and COVID-19 patients. Interestingly, cardiomyopathy patients display the most similar immune landscape to COVID-19 patients. Additionally, COVID-19 patients experience greater upregulation of cytokine- and inflammasome-related genes than patients with CVDs. In all, patients with CVDs have a significant overlap of cytokine- and inflammasome-related gene expression profiles with that of COVID-19 patients, possibly explaining their greater vulnerability to severe COVID-19. Full article
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Review
The Spike of Concern—The Novel Variants of SARS-CoV-2
Viruses 2021, 13(6), 1002; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13061002 - 27 May 2021
Cited by 55 | Viewed by 4991
Abstract
The high sequence identity of the first SARS-CoV-2 samples collected in December 2019 at Wuhan did not foretell the emergence of novel variants in the United Kingdom, North and South America, India, or South Africa that drive the current waves of the pandemic. [...] Read more.
The high sequence identity of the first SARS-CoV-2 samples collected in December 2019 at Wuhan did not foretell the emergence of novel variants in the United Kingdom, North and South America, India, or South Africa that drive the current waves of the pandemic. The viral spike receptor possesses two surface areas of high mutagenic plasticity: the supersite in its N-terminal domain (NTD) that is recognised by all anti-NTD antibodies and its receptor binding domain (RBD) where 17 residues make contact with the human Ace2 protein (angiotensin I converting enzyme 2) and many neutralising antibodies bind. While NTD mutations appear at first glance very diverse, they converge on the structure of the supersite. The mutations within the RBD, on the other hand, hone in on only a small number of key sites (K417, L452, E484, N501) that are allosteric control points enabling spike to escape neutralising antibodies while maintaining or even gaining Ace2-binding activity. The D614G mutation is the hallmark of all variants, as it promotes viral spread by increasing the number of open spike protomers in the homo-trimeric receptor complex. This review discusses the recent spike mutations as well as their evolution. Full article
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