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
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 and Collections 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 and Collections 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
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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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 (18 papers)

2021

Article
Previous SARS-CoV-2 Infection Increases B.1.1.7 Cross-Neutralization by Vaccinated Individuals
Viruses 2021, 13(6), 1135; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13061135 - 12 Jun 2021
Viewed by 239
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://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13061126 - 11 Jun 2021
Viewed by 316
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://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13061118 - 10 Jun 2021
Viewed by 275
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://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13061064 - 03 Jun 2021
Viewed by 482
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://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13061022 - 28 May 2021
Viewed by 614
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://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13061018 - 28 May 2021
Viewed by 515
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://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13061002 - 27 May 2021
Viewed by 869
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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Opinion
Repeated Exposure to Subinfectious Doses of SARS-CoV-2 May Promote T Cell Immunity and Protection against Severe COVID-19
Viruses 2021, 13(6), 961; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13060961 - 22 May 2021
Viewed by 611
Abstract
Europe is experiencing a third wave of COVID-19 due to the spread of highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants. A number of positive and negative factors constantly shape the rates of COVID-19 infections, hospitalization, and mortality. Among these factors, the rise in increasingly transmissible variants [...] Read more.
Europe is experiencing a third wave of COVID-19 due to the spread of highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants. A number of positive and negative factors constantly shape the rates of COVID-19 infections, hospitalization, and mortality. Among these factors, the rise in increasingly transmissible variants on one side and the effect of vaccinations on the other side create a picture deeply different from that of the first pandemic wave. Starting from the observation that in several European countries the number of COVID-19 infections in the second and third pandemic wave increased without a proportional rise in disease severity and mortality, we hypothesize the existence of an additional factor influencing SARS-CoV-2 dynamics. This factor consists of an immune defence against severe COVID-19, provided by SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells progressively developing upon natural exposure to low virus doses present in populated environments. As suggested by recent studies, low-dose viral particles entering the respiratory and intestinal tracts may be able to induce T cell memory in the absence of inflammation, potentially resulting in different degrees of immunization. In this scenario, non-pharmaceutical interventions would play a double role, one in the short term by reducing the detrimental spreading of SARS-CoV-2 particles, and one in the long term by allowing the development of a widespread (although heterogeneous and uncontrollable) form of immune protection. Full article
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Article
SARS-CoV-2 Disinfection of Air and Surface Contamination by TiO2 Photocatalyst-Mediated Damage to Viral Morphology, RNA, and Protein
Viruses 2021, 13(5), 942; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13050942 - 20 May 2021
Viewed by 1446
Abstract
SARS-CoV-2 is the causative agent of COVID-19, which is a global pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted rapidly via contaminated surfaces and aerosols, emphasizing the importance of environmental disinfection to block the spread of virus. Ultraviolet C radiation and chemical compounds are effective for SARS-CoV-2 [...] Read more.
SARS-CoV-2 is the causative agent of COVID-19, which is a global pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted rapidly via contaminated surfaces and aerosols, emphasizing the importance of environmental disinfection to block the spread of virus. Ultraviolet C radiation and chemical compounds are effective for SARS-CoV-2 disinfection, but can only be applied in the absence of humans due to their toxicities. Therefore, development of disinfectants that can be applied in working spaces without evacuating people is needed. Here we showed that TiO2-mediated photocatalytic reaction inactivates SARS-CoV-2 in a time-dependent manner and decreases its infectivity by 99.9% after 20 min and 120 min of treatment in aerosol and liquid, respectively. The mechanistic effects of TiO2 photocatalyst on SARS-CoV-2 virion included decreased total observed virion count, increased virion size, and reduced particle surface spike structure, as determined by transmission electron microscopy. Damage to viral proteins and genome was further confirmed by western blotting and RT-qPCR, respectively. The multi-antiviral effects of TiO2-mediated photocatalytic reaction implies universal disinfection potential for different infectious agents. Notably, TiO2 has no adverse effects on human health, and therefore, TiO2-induced photocatalytic reaction is suitable for disinfection of SARS-CoV-2 and other emerging infectious disease-causing agents in human habitation. Full article
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Article
Prediction and Evolution of the Molecular Fitness of SARS-CoV-2 Variants: Introducing SpikePro
Viruses 2021, 13(5), 935; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13050935 - 18 May 2021
Viewed by 484
Abstract
The understanding of the molecular mechanisms driving the fitness of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its mutational evolution is still a critical issue. We built a simplified computational model, called SpikePro, to predict the SARS-CoV-2 fitness from the amino acid sequence and structure of [...] Read more.
The understanding of the molecular mechanisms driving the fitness of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its mutational evolution is still a critical issue. We built a simplified computational model, called SpikePro, to predict the SARS-CoV-2 fitness from the amino acid sequence and structure of the spike protein. It contains three contributions: the inter-human transmissibility of the virus predicted from the stability of the spike protein, the infectivity computed in terms of the affinity of the spike protein for the ACE2 receptor, and the ability of the virus to escape from the human immune response based on the binding affinity of the spike protein for a set of neutralizing antibodies. Our model reproduces well the available experimental, epidemiological and clinical data on the impact of variants on the biophysical characteristics of the virus. For example, it is able to identify circulating viral strains that, by increasing their fitness, recently became dominant at the population level. SpikePro is a useful, freely available instrument which predicts rapidly and with good accuracy the dangerousness of new viral strains. It can be integrated and play a fundamental role in the genomic surveillance programs of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that, despite all the efforts, remain time-consuming and expensive. Full article
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Article
Critical Aspects Concerning the Development of a Pooling Approach for SARS-CoV-2 Diagnosis Using Large-Scale PCR Testing
Viruses 2021, 13(5), 902; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13050902 - 13 May 2021
Viewed by 824
Abstract
The primary approach to controlling the spread of the pandemic SARS-CoV-2 is to diagnose and isolate the infected people quickly. Our paper aimed to investigate the efficiency and the reliability of a hierarchical pooling approach for large-scale PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis. To [...] Read more.
The primary approach to controlling the spread of the pandemic SARS-CoV-2 is to diagnose and isolate the infected people quickly. Our paper aimed to investigate the efficiency and the reliability of a hierarchical pooling approach for large-scale PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis. To identify the best conditions for the pooling approach for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis by RT-qPCR, we investigated four manual methods for both RNA extraction and PCR assessment targeting one or more of the RdRp, N, S, and ORF1a genes, by using two PCR devices and an automated flux for SARS-CoV-2 detection. We determined the most efficient and accurate diagnostic assay, taking into account multiple parameters. The optimal pool size calculation included the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2, the assay sensitivity of 95%, an assay specificity of 100%, and a range of pool sizes of 5 to 15 samples. Our investigation revealed that the most efficient and accurate procedure for detecting the SARS-CoV-2 has a detection limit of 2.5 copies/PCR reaction. This pooling approach proved to be efficient and accurate in detecting SARS-CoV-2 for all samples with individual quantification cycle (Cq) values lower than 35, accounting for more than 94% of all positive specimens. Our data could serve as a comprehensive practical guide for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic centers planning to address such a pooling strategy. Full article
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Brief Report
Performance of Self-Collected Saliva Testing Compared with Nasopharyngeal Swab Testing for the Detection of SARS-CoV-2
Viruses 2021, 13(5), 895; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13050895 - 12 May 2021
Viewed by 503
Abstract
The aim of this study was to determine whether self-collected pure saliva (SCPS) is comparable to nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs in the quantitative detection of SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR in asymptomatic, mild patients with confirmed COVID-19. Thirty-one patients aged from 18 to 85 years were [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to determine whether self-collected pure saliva (SCPS) is comparable to nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs in the quantitative detection of SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR in asymptomatic, mild patients with confirmed COVID-19. Thirty-one patients aged from 18 to 85 years were included between 9 June and 11 December 2020. A SCPS sample and a NP sample were taken for each patient. Quantitative PCR was performed to detect SARS-CoV-2 viral load. Results of SCPS vs. NP samples testing were compared. Statistical analyses were performed. Viral load was significantly correlated (r = 0.72). The concordance probability was estimated at 73.3%. In symptomatic adults, SCPS performance was similar to that of NP swabs (Percent Agreement = 74.1%; p = 0.11). Thus, the salivary test based on pure oral saliva samples easily obtained by noninvasive techniques has a fair agreement with the nasopharyngeal one in asymptomatic, mild patients with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. Full article
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Article
Scalable, Micro-Neutralization Assay for Assessment of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Virus-Neutralizing Antibodies in Human Clinical Samples
Viruses 2021, 13(5), 893; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13050893 - 12 May 2021
Viewed by 424
Abstract
As the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic expanded, it was clear that effective testing for the presence of neutralizing antibodies in the blood of convalescent patients would be critical for development of plasma-based therapeutic approaches. To address the need for [...] Read more.
As the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic expanded, it was clear that effective testing for the presence of neutralizing antibodies in the blood of convalescent patients would be critical for development of plasma-based therapeutic approaches. To address the need for a high-quality neutralization assay against SARS-CoV-2, a previously established fluorescence reduction neutralization assay (FRNA) against Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was modified and optimized. The SARS-CoV-2 FRNA provides a quantitative assessment of a large number of infected cells through use of a high-content imaging system. Because of this approach, and the fact that it does not involve subjective interpretation, this assay is more efficient and more accurate than other neutralization assays. In addition, the ability to set robust acceptance criteria for individual plates and specific test wells provided further rigor to this assay. Such agile adaptability avails use with multiple virus variants. By February 2021, the SARS-CoV-2 FRNA had been used to screen over 5000 samples, including acute and convalescent plasma or serum samples and therapeutic antibody treatments, for SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing titers. Full article
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Article
Genomic Surveillance of Circulating SARS-CoV-2 in South East Italy: A One-Year Retrospective Genetic Study
Viruses 2021, 13(5), 731; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13050731 - 22 Apr 2021
Viewed by 765
Abstract
In order to provide insights into the evolutionary and epidemiological viral dynamics during the current COVID-19 pandemic in South Eastern Italy, a total of 298 genomes of SARS-CoV-2 strains collected in the Apulia and Basilicata regions, between March 2020 and January 2021, were [...] Read more.
In order to provide insights into the evolutionary and epidemiological viral dynamics during the current COVID-19 pandemic in South Eastern Italy, a total of 298 genomes of SARS-CoV-2 strains collected in the Apulia and Basilicata regions, between March 2020 and January 2021, were sequenced. The genomic analysis performed on the draft genomes allowed us to assign the genetic clades and lineages of belonging to each sample and provide an overview of the main circulating viral variants. Our data showed the spread in Apulia and Basilicata of SARS-CoV-2 variants which have emerged during the second wave of infections and are being currently monitored worldwide for their increased transmission rate and their possible impact on vaccines and therapies. These results emphasize the importance of genome sequencing for the epidemiological surveillance of the new SARS-CoV-2 variants’ spread. Full article
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Article
Arthropod Ectoparasites Have Potential to Bind SARS-CoV-2 via ACE
Viruses 2021, 13(4), 708; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13040708 - 19 Apr 2021
Viewed by 726
Abstract
Coronavirus-like organisms have been previously identified in Arthropod ectoparasites (such as ticks and unfed cat flea). Yet, the question regarding the possible role of these arthropods as SARS-CoV-2 passive/biological transmission vectors is still poorly explored. In this study, we performed in silico structural [...] Read more.
Coronavirus-like organisms have been previously identified in Arthropod ectoparasites (such as ticks and unfed cat flea). Yet, the question regarding the possible role of these arthropods as SARS-CoV-2 passive/biological transmission vectors is still poorly explored. In this study, we performed in silico structural and binding energy calculations to assess the risks associated with possible ectoparasite transmission. We found sufficient similarity between ectoparasite ACE and human ACE2 protein sequences to build good quality 3D-models of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike:ACE complex to assess the impacts of ectoparasite mutations on complex stability. For several species (e.g., water flea, deer tick, body louse), our analyses showed no significant destabilisation of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike:ACE complex, suggesting these species would bind the viral Spike protein. Our structural analyses also provide structural rationale for interactions between the viral Spike and the ectoparasite ACE proteins. Although we do not have experimental evidence of infection in these ectoparasites, the predicted stability of the complex suggests this is possible, raising concerns of a possible role in passive transmission of the virus to their human hosts. Full article
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Communication
SARS-CoV-2 Reinfection in a Healthcare Worker Despite the Presence of Detectable Neutralizing Antibodies
Viruses 2021, 13(4), 661; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13040661 - 12 Apr 2021
Viewed by 1090
Abstract
So far, only a few reports about reinfections with SARS-CoV-2 have been published, and they often lack detailed immunological and virological data. We report about a SARS-CoV-2 reinfection with a genetically distinct SARS-CoV-2 variant in an immunocompetent female healthcare worker that has led [...] Read more.
So far, only a few reports about reinfections with SARS-CoV-2 have been published, and they often lack detailed immunological and virological data. We report about a SARS-CoV-2 reinfection with a genetically distinct SARS-CoV-2 variant in an immunocompetent female healthcare worker that has led to a mild disease course. No obvious viral escape mutations were observed in the second virus variant. The infectious virus was shed from the patient during the second infection episode despite the presence of neutralizing antibodies in her blood. Our data indicate that a moderate immune response after the first infection, but not a viral escape, did allow for reinfection and live virus shedding. Full article
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Article
Comparison of Throat Washings, Nasopharyngeal Swabs and Oropharyngeal Swabs for Detection of SARS-CoV-2
Viruses 2021, 13(4), 653; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13040653 - 10 Apr 2021
Viewed by 491
Abstract
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA is detected by reverse-transcription quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR) from respiratory specimens. This study compares throat washings (TW), nasopharyngeal swabs (NS) and oropharyngeal swabs (OS). A total of 102 samples from 34 adult patients with confirmed [...] Read more.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA is detected by reverse-transcription quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR) from respiratory specimens. This study compares throat washings (TW), nasopharyngeal swabs (NS) and oropharyngeal swabs (OS). A total of 102 samples from 34 adult patients with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection were analysed by RT-qPCR with absolute quantification. The median concentrations and diagnostic sensitivities were 5.8×104 copies/mL, 85% (NS), 1.4×104, 79% (OS) and 4.3×103, 85% (TW). Concentration differences were significant between NS and TW (P = 0.019). Saliva (SA) was available from 21 patients (median 3.4×103). OS and TW can be considered for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics, although with slightly lower concentrations. Full article
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Article
Nosocomial Outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 in a “Non-COVID-19” Hospital Ward: Virus Genome Sequencing as a Key Tool to Understand Cryptic Transmission
Viruses 2021, 13(4), 604; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/v13040604 - 01 Apr 2021
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Abstract
Dissemination of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in healthcare institutions affects both patients and health-care workers (HCW), as well as the institutional capacity to provide essential health services. Here, we investigated an outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 in a “non-COVID-19” hospital ward unveiled [...] Read more.
Dissemination of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in healthcare institutions affects both patients and health-care workers (HCW), as well as the institutional capacity to provide essential health services. Here, we investigated an outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 in a “non-COVID-19” hospital ward unveiled by massive testing, which challenged the reconstruction of transmission chains. The contacts network during the 15-day period before the screening was investigated, and positive SARS-CoV-2 RNA samples were subjected to virus genome sequencing. Of the 245 tested individuals, 48 (21 patients and 27 HCWs) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. HCWs were mostly asymptomatic, but the mortality among patients reached 57.1% (12/21). Phylogenetic reconstruction revealed that all cases were part of the same transmission chain. By combining contact tracing and genomic data, including analysis of emerging minor variants, we unveiled a scenario of silent SARS-CoV-2 dissemination, mostly driven by the close contact within the HCWs group and between HCWs and patients. This investigation triggered enhanced prevention and control measures, leading to more timely detection and containment of novel outbreaks. This study shows the benefit of combining genomic and epidemiological data for disclosing complex nosocomial outbreaks, and provides valuable data to prevent transmission of COVID-19 in healthcare facilities. Full article
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