Clinical and genomic signatures of SARS-CoV-2 Delta breakthrough infections in New York
BACKGROUND:In 2021, Delta became the predominant SARS-CoV-2 variant worldwide. While vaccines have effectively prevented COVID-19 hospitalization and death, vaccine breakthrough infections increasingly occurred. The precise role of clinical and genomic determinants in Delta infections is not known, and whether they contributed to increased rates of breakthrough infections compared to unvaccinated controls. METHODS:We studied SARS-CoV-2 variant distribution, dynamics, and adaptive selection over time in relation to vaccine status, phylogenetic relatedness of viruses, full genome mutation profiles, and associated clinical and demographic parameters. FINDINGS/RESULTS:We show a steep and near-complete replacement of circulating variants with Delta between May and August 2021 in metropolitan New York. We observed an increase of the Delta sublineage AY.25 (14% in vaccinated, 7% in unvaccinated), its spike mutation S112L, and AY.44 (8% in vaccinated, 2% in unvaccinated) with its nsp12 mutation F192V in breakthroughs. Delta infections were associated with younger age and lower hospitalization rates than Alpha. Delta breakthrough infections increased significantly with time since vaccination, and, after adjusting for confounders, they rose at similar rates as in unvaccinated individuals. INTERPRETATION/CONCLUSIONS:We observed a modest adaptation of Delta genomes in breakthrough infections in New York, suggesting an improved genomic framework to support Delta's epidemic growth in times of waning vaccine protection despite limited impact on vaccine escape. FUNDING/BACKGROUND:The study was supported by NYU institutional funds. The NYULH Genome Technology Center is partially supported by the Cancer Center Support Grant P30CA016087 at theÂ Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center.
Delta-Omicron recombinant SARS-CoV-2 in a transplant patient treated with Sotrovimab [PrePrint]
We identified a Delta-Omicron SARS-CoV-2 recombinant in an unvaccinated, immunosuppressed kidney transplant recipient who had positive COVID-19 tests in December 2021 and February 2022 and was initially treated with Sotrovimab. Viral sequencing in February 2022 revealed a 5' Delta AY.45 portion and a 3' Omicron BA.1 portion with a recombination breakpoint in the spike N-terminal domain, adjacent to the Sotrovimab quaternary binding site. The recombinant virus induced cytopathic effects with characteristics of both Delta (large cells) and Omicron (cell rounding/detachment). Monitoring of immunosuppressed COVID-19 patients treated with antiviral monoclonal antibodies is crucial to detect potential selection of recombinant variants.
Dominance of Alpha and Iota variants in SARS-CoV-2 vaccine breakthrough infections in New York City
The efficacy of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines is high, but breakthrough infections still occur. We compared the SARS-CoV-2 genomes of 76 breakthrough cases after full vaccination with BNT162b2 (Pfizer/BioNTech), mRNA-1273 (Moderna), or JNJ-78436735 (Janssen) to unvaccinated controls (February-April 2021) in metropolitan New York, including their phylogenetic relationship, distribution of variants, and full spike mutation profiles. The median age of patients in the study was 48 years; 7 required hospitalization and 1 died. Most breakthrough infections (57/76) occurred with B.1.1.7 (Alpha) or B.1.526 (Iota). Among the 7 hospitalized cases, 4 were infected with B.1.1.7, including 1 death. Both unmatched and matched statistical analyses considering age, sex, vaccine type, and study month as covariates supported the null hypothesis of equal variant distributions between vaccinated and unvaccinated in Ï‡2 and McNemar tests (P > 0.1), highlighting a high vaccine efficacy against B.1.1.7 and B.1.526. There was no clear association among breakthroughs between type of vaccine received and variant. In the vaccinated group, spike mutations in the N-terminal domain and receptor-binding domain that have been associated with immune evasion were overrepresented. The evolving dynamic of SARS-CoV-2 variants requires broad genomic analyses of breakthrough infections to provide real-life information on immune escape mediated by circulating variants and their spike mutations.
Longitudinal analysis of humoral immunity against SARS-CoV-2 Spike in convalescent individuals up to 8Â months post-symptom onset
With the recent approval of highly effective coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines, functional and lasting immunity to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is currently under investigation as antibody levels in plasma were shown to decline during convalescence. Since the absence of antibodies does not equate to absence of immune memory, we evaluate the presence of SARS-CoV-2-specific memory B cells in convalescent individuals. Here, we report a longitudinal assessment of humoral immune responses on 32 donors up to 8Â months post-symptom onset. Our observations indicate that anti-Spike and anti-receptor binding domain (RBD) immunoglobulin M (IgM) in plasma decay rapidly, whereas the reduction of IgG is less prominent. Neutralizing activity also declines rapidly when compared to Fc-effector functions. Concomitantly, the frequencies of RBD-specific IgM+ B cells wane significantly when compared to RBD-specific IgG+ B cells, which remain stable. Our results add to the current understanding of immune memory following SARS-CoV-2 infection, which is critical for secondary infection prevention and vaccine efficacy.
Differential V2-directed antibody responses in non-human primates infected with SHIVs or immunized with diverse HIV vaccines
V2p and V2i antibodies (Abs) that are specific for epitopes in the V1V2 region of the HIV gp120 envelope (Env) do not effectively neutralize HIV but mediate Fc-dependent anti-viral activities that have been correlated with protection from, or control of HIV, SIV and SHIV infections. Here, we describe a novel molecular toolbox that allows the discrimination of antigenically and functionally distinct polyclonal V2 Ab responses. We identify different patterns of V2 Ab induction by SHIV infection and three separate vaccine regimens that aid in fine-tuning an optimized immunization protocol for inducing V2p and V2i Abs. We observe no, or weak and sporadic V2p and V2i Abs in non-vaccinated SHIV-infected NHPs, but strong V2p and/or V2i Ab responses after immunization with a V2-targeting vaccine protocol. The V2-focused vaccination is superior to both natural infection and to immunization with whole Env constructs for inducing functional V2p- and V2i-specific responses. Strikingly, levels of V2-directed Abs correlate inversely with Abs specific for peptides of V3 and C5. These data demonstrate that a V1V2-targeting vaccine has advantages over the imprecise targeting of SIV/SHIV infections and of whole Env-based immunization regimens for inducing a more focused functional V2p- and V2i-specific Ab response.
Microbial signatures in the lower airways of mechanically ventilated COVID-19 patients associated with poor clinical outcome
Respiratory failure is associated with increased mortality in COVID-19 patients. There are no validated lower airway biomarkers to predict clinical outcome. We investigated whether bacterial respiratory infections were associated with poor clinical outcome of COVID-19 in a prospective, observational cohort of 589 critically ill adults, all of whom required mechanical ventilation. For a subset of 142 patients who underwent bronchoscopy, we quantified SARS-CoV-2 viral load, analysed the lower respiratory tract microbiome using metagenomics and metatranscriptomics and profiled the host immune response. Acquisition of a hospital-acquired respiratory pathogen was not associated with fatal outcome. Poor clinical outcome was associated with lower airway enrichment with an oral commensal (Mycoplasma salivarium). Increased SARS-CoV-2 abundance, low anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody response and a distinct host transcriptome profile of the lower airways were most predictive of mortality. Our data provide evidence that secondary respiratory infections do not drive mortality in COVID-19 and clinical management strategies should prioritize reducing viral replication and maximizing host responses to SARS-CoV-2.
Dispersal dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 lineages during the first epidemic wave in New York City
During the first phase of the COVID-19 epidemic, New York City rapidly became the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. While molecular phylogenetic analyses have previously highlighted multiple introductions and a period of cryptic community transmission within New York City, little is known about the circulation of SARS-CoV-2 within and among its boroughs. We here perform phylogeographic investigations to gain insights into the circulation of viral lineages during the first months of the New York City outbreak. Our analyses describe the dispersal dynamics of viral lineages at the state and city levels, illustrating that peripheral samples likely correspond to distinct dispersal events originating from the main metropolitan city areas. In line with the high prevalence recorded in this area, our results highlight the relatively important role of the borough of Queens as a transmission hub associated with higher local circulation and dispersal of viral lineages toward the surrounding boroughs.
SARS-CoV-2 Portrayed against HIV: Contrary Viral Strategies in Similar Disguise
SARS-CoV-2 and HIV are zoonotic viruses that rapidly reached pandemic scale, causing global losses and fear. The COVID-19 and AIDS pandemics ignited massive efforts worldwide to develop antiviral strategies and characterize viral architectures, biological and immunological properties, and clinical outcomes. Although both viruses have a comparable appearance as enveloped viruses with positive-stranded RNA and envelope spikes mediating cellular entry, the entry process, downstream biological and immunological pathways, clinical outcomes, and disease courses are strikingly different. This review provides a systemic comparison of both viruses' structural and functional characteristics, delineating their distinct strategies for efficient spread.
Antibody Titers against Mpox Virus after Vaccination [Letter]
Generation of quality-controlled SARS-CoV-2 variant stocks
One of the main challenges in the fight against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) stems from the ongoing evolution of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) into multiple variants. To address this hurdle, research groups around the world have independently developed protocols to isolate these variants from clinical samples. These isolates are then used in translational and basic research-for example, in vaccine development, drug screening or characterizing SARS-CoV-2 biology and pathogenesis. However, over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have learned that the introduction of artefacts during both in vitro isolation and subsequent propagation to virus stocks can lessen the validity and reproducibility of data. We propose a rigorous pipeline for the generation of high-quality SARS-CoV-2 variant clonal isolates that minimizes the acquisition of mutations and introduces stringent controls to detect them. Overall, the process includes eight stages: (i) cell maintenance, (ii) isolation of SARS-CoV-2 from clinical specimens, (iii) determination of infectious virus titers by plaque assay, (iv) clonal isolation by plaque purification, (v) whole-virus-genome deep-sequencing, (vi and vii) amplification of selected virus clones to master and working stocks and (viii) sucrose purification. This comprehensive protocol will enable researchers to generate reliable SARS-CoV-2 variant inoculates for in vitro and in vivo experimentation and will facilitate comparisons and collaborative work. Quality-controlled working stocks for most applications can be generated from acquired biorepository virus within 1 month. An additional 5-8 d are required when virus is isolated from clinical swab material, and another 6-7 d is needed for sucrose-purifying the stocks.