137 research outputs found

    Para-infectious brain injury in COVID-19 persists at follow-up despite attenuated cytokine and autoantibody responses

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    To understand neurological complications of COVID-19 better both acutely and for recovery, we measured markers of brain injury, inflammatory mediators, and autoantibodies in 203 hospitalised participants; 111 with acute sera (1–11 days post-admission) and 92 convalescent sera (56 with COVID-19-associated neurological diagnoses). Here we show that compared to 60 uninfected controls, tTau, GFAP, NfL, and UCH-L1 are increased with COVID-19 infection at acute timepoints and NfL and GFAP are significantly higher in participants with neurological complications. Inflammatory mediators (IL-6, IL-12p40, HGF, M-CSF, CCL2, and IL-1RA) are associated with both altered consciousness and markers of brain injury. Autoantibodies are more common in COVID-19 than controls and some (including against MYL7, UCH-L1, and GRIN3B) are more frequent with altered consciousness. Additionally, convalescent participants with neurological complications show elevated GFAP and NfL, unrelated to attenuated systemic inflammatory mediators and to autoantibody responses. Overall, neurological complications of COVID-19 are associated with evidence of neuroglial injury in both acute and late disease and these correlate with dysregulated innate and adaptive immune responses acutely

    Para-infectious brain injury in COVID-19 persists at follow-up despite attenuated cytokine and autoantibody responses

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    To understand neurological complications of COVID-19 better both acutely and for recovery, we measured markers of brain injury, inflammatory mediators, and autoantibodies in 203 hospitalised participants; 111 with acute sera (1–11 days post-admission) and 92 convalescent sera (56 with COVID-19-associated neurological diagnoses). Here we show that compared to 60 uninfected controls, tTau, GFAP, NfL, and UCH-L1 are increased with COVID-19 infection at acute timepoints and NfL and GFAP are significantly higher in participants with neurological complications. Inflammatory mediators (IL-6, IL-12p40, HGF, M-CSF, CCL2, and IL-1RA) are associated with both altered consciousness and markers of brain injury. Autoantibodies are more common in COVID-19 than controls and some (including against MYL7, UCH-L1, and GRIN3B) are more frequent with altered consciousness. Additionally, convalescent participants with neurological complications show elevated GFAP and NfL, unrelated to attenuated systemic inflammatory mediators and to autoantibody responses. Overall, neurological complications of COVID-19 are associated with evidence of neuroglial injury in both acute and late disease and these correlate with dysregulated innate and adaptive immune responses acutely

    The P323L substitution in the SARS-CoV-2 polymerase (NSP12) confers a selective advantage during infection

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    Background The mutational landscape of SARS-CoV-2 varies at the dominant viral genome sequence and minor genomic variant population. During the COVID-19 pandemic, an early substitution in the genome was the D614G change in the spike protein, associated with an increase in transmissibility. Genomes with D614G are accompanied by a P323L substitution in the viral polymerase (NSP12). However, P323L is not thought to be under strong selective pressure. Results Investigation of P323L/D614G substitutions in the population shows rapid emergence during the containment phase and early surge phase during the first wave. These substitutions emerge from minor genomic variants which become dominant viral genome sequence. This is investigated in vivo and in vitro using SARS-CoV-2 with P323 and D614 in the dominant genome sequence and L323 and G614 in the minor variant population. During infection, there is rapid selection of L323 into the dominant viral genome sequence but not G614. Reverse genetics is used to create two viruses (either P323 or L323) with the same genetic background. L323 shows greater abundance of viral RNA and proteins and a smaller plaque morphology than P323. Conclusions These data suggest that P323L is an important contribution in the emergence of variants with transmission advantages. Sequence analysis of viral populations suggests it may be possible to predict the emergence of a new variant based on tracking the frequency of minor variant genomes. The ability to predict an emerging variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the global landscape may aid in the evaluation of medical countermeasures and non-pharmaceutical interventions

    Neuroinvasion and Neurotropism by SARS-CoV-2 Variants in the K18-hACE2 Mouse

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    Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) not only affects the respiratory tract but also causes neurological symptoms such as loss of smell and taste, headache, fatigue or severe cerebrovascular complications. Using transgenic mice expressing human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2), we investigated the spatiotemporal distribution and pathomorphological features in the CNS following intranasal infection with SARS-CoV-2 variants, as well as after prior influenza A virus infection. Apart from Omicron, we found all variants to frequently spread to and within the CNS. Infection was restricted to neurons and appeared to spread from the olfactory bulb mainly in basally oriented regions in the brain and into the spinal cord, independent of ACE2 expression and without evidence of neuronal cell death, axonal damage or demyelination. However, microglial activation, microgliosis and a mild macrophage and T cell dominated inflammatory response was consistently observed, accompanied by apoptotic death of endothelial, microglial and immune cells, without their apparent infection. Microgliosis and immune cell apoptosis indicate a potential role of microglia for pathogenesis and viral effect in COVID-19 and the possible impairment of neurological functions, especially in long COVID. These data may also be informative for the selection of therapeutic candidates and broadly support the investigation of agents with adequate penetration into relevant regions of the CNS. Keywords: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2; mouse model; COVID-19; encephalitis; microgliosis; influenza A virus coinfection; virus variant

    Molnupiravir versus placebo in unvaccinated and vaccinated patients with early SARS-CoV-2 infection in the UK (AGILE CST-2): a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind, phase 2 trial.

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    BACKGROUND: The antiviral drug molnupiravir was licensed for treating at-risk patients with COVID-19 on the basis of data from unvaccinated adults. We aimed to evaluate the safety and virological efficacy of molnupiravir in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals with COVID-19. METHODS: This randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind, phase 2 trial (AGILE CST-2) was done at five National Institute for Health and Care Research sites in the UK. Eligible participants were adult (aged ≥18 years) outpatients with PCR-confirmed, mild-to-moderate SARS-CoV-2 infection who were within 5 days of symptom onset. Using permuted blocks (block size 2 or 4) and stratifying by site, participants were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive either molnupiravir (orally; 800 mg twice daily for 5 days) plus standard of care or matching placebo plus standard of care. The primary outcome was the time from randomisation to SARS-CoV-2 PCR negativity on nasopharyngeal swabs and was analysed by use of a Bayesian Cox proportional hazards model for estimating the probability of a superior virological response (hazard ratio [HR]>1) for molnupiravir versus placebo. Our primary model used a two-point prior based on equal prior probabilities (50%) that the HR was 1·0 or 1·5. We defined a priori that if the probability of a HR of more than 1 was more than 80% molnupiravir would be recommended for further testing. The primary outcome was analysed in the intention-to-treat population and safety was analysed in the safety population, comprising participants who had received at least one dose of allocated treatment. This trial is registered in ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04746183, and the ISRCTN registry, ISRCTN27106947, and is ongoing. FINDINGS: Between Nov 18, 2020, and March 16, 2022, 1723 patients were assessed for eligibility, of whom 180 were randomly assigned to receive either molnupiravir (n=90) or placebo (n=90) and were included in the intention-to-treat analysis. 103 (57%) of 180 participants were female and 77 (43%) were male and 90 (50%) participants had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. SARS-CoV-2 infections with the delta (B.1.617.2; 72 [40%] of 180), alpha (B.1.1.7; 37 [21%]), omicron (B.1.1.529; 38 [21%]), and EU1 (B.1.177; 28 [16%]) variants were represented. All 180 participants received at least one dose of treatment and four participants discontinued the study (one in the molnupiravir group and three in the placebo group). Participants in the molnupiravir group had a faster median time from randomisation to negative PCR (8 days [95% CI 8-9]) than participants in the placebo group (11 days [10-11]; HR 1·30, 95% credible interval 0·92-1·71; log-rank p=0·074). The probability of molnupiravir being superior to placebo (HR>1) was 75·4%, which was less than our threshold of 80%. 73 (81%) of 90 participants in the molnupiravir group and 68 (76%) of 90 participants in the placebo group had at least one adverse event by day 29. One participant in the molnupiravir group and three participants in the placebo group had an adverse event of a Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events grade 3 or higher severity. No participants died (due to any cause) during the trial. INTERPRETATION: We found molnupiravir to be well tolerated and, although our predefined threshold was not reached, we observed some evidence that molnupiravir has antiviral activity in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals infected with a broad range of SARS-CoV-2 variants, although this evidence is not conclusive. FUNDING: Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, the UK National Institute for Health and Care Research, the Medical Research Council, and the Wellcome Trust

    Implementation of corticosteroids in treating COVID-19 in the ISARIC WHO Clinical Characterisation Protocol UK:prospective observational cohort study

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    BACKGROUND: Dexamethasone was the first intervention proven to reduce mortality in patients with COVID-19 being treated in hospital. We aimed to evaluate the adoption of corticosteroids in the treatment of COVID-19 in the UK after the RECOVERY trial publication on June 16, 2020, and to identify discrepancies in care. METHODS: We did an audit of clinical implementation of corticosteroids in a prospective, observational, cohort study in 237 UK acute care hospitals between March 16, 2020, and April 14, 2021, restricted to patients aged 18 years or older with proven or high likelihood of COVID-19, who received supplementary oxygen. The primary outcome was administration of dexamethasone, prednisolone, hydrocortisone, or methylprednisolone. This study is registered with ISRCTN, ISRCTN66726260. FINDINGS: Between June 17, 2020, and April 14, 2021, 47 795 (75·2%) of 63 525 of patients on supplementary oxygen received corticosteroids, higher among patients requiring critical care than in those who received ward care (11 185 [86·6%] of 12 909 vs 36 415 [72·4%] of 50 278). Patients 50 years or older were significantly less likely to receive corticosteroids than those younger than 50 years (adjusted odds ratio 0·79 [95% CI 0·70–0·89], p=0·0001, for 70–79 years; 0·52 [0·46–0·58], p80 years), independent of patient demographics and illness severity. 84 (54·2%) of 155 pregnant women received corticosteroids. Rates of corticosteroid administration increased from 27·5% in the week before June 16, 2020, to 75–80% in January, 2021. INTERPRETATION: Implementation of corticosteroids into clinical practice in the UK for patients with COVID-19 has been successful, but not universal. Patients older than 70 years, independent of illness severity, chronic neurological disease, and dementia, were less likely to receive corticosteroids than those who were younger, as were pregnant women. This could reflect appropriate clinical decision making, but the possibility of inequitable access to life-saving care should be considered. FUNDING: UK National Institute for Health Research and UK Medical Research Council

    Genomic assessment of quarantine measures to prevent SARS-CoV-2 importation and transmission

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    Mitigation of SARS-CoV-2 transmission from international travel is a priority. We evaluated the effectiveness of travellers being required to quarantine for 14-days on return to England in Summer 2020. We identified 4,207 travel-related SARS-CoV-2 cases and their contacts, and identified 827 associated SARS-CoV-2 genomes. Overall, quarantine was associated with a lower rate of contacts, and the impact of quarantine was greatest in the 16–20 age-group. 186 SARS-CoV-2 genomes were sufficiently unique to identify travel-related clusters. Fewer genomically-linked cases were observed for index cases who returned from countries with quarantine requirement compared to countries with no quarantine requirement. This difference was explained by fewer importation events per identified genome for these cases, as opposed to fewer onward contacts per case. Overall, our study demonstrates that a 14-day quarantine period reduces, but does not completely eliminate, the onward transmission of imported cases, mainly by dissuading travel to countries with a quarantine requirement

    Hospital admission and emergency care attendance risk for SARS-CoV-2 delta (B.1.617.2) compared with alpha (B.1.1.7) variants of concern: a cohort study

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    Background: The SARS-CoV-2 delta (B.1.617.2) variant was first detected in England in March, 2021. It has since rapidly become the predominant lineage, owing to high transmissibility. It is suspected that the delta variant is associated with more severe disease than the previously dominant alpha (B.1.1.7) variant. We aimed to characterise the severity of the delta variant compared with the alpha variant by determining the relative risk of hospital attendance outcomes. Methods: This cohort study was done among all patients with COVID-19 in England between March 29 and May 23, 2021, who were identified as being infected with either the alpha or delta SARS-CoV-2 variant through whole-genome sequencing. Individual-level data on these patients were linked to routine health-care datasets on vaccination, emergency care attendance, hospital admission, and mortality (data from Public Health England's Second Generation Surveillance System and COVID-19-associated deaths dataset; the National Immunisation Management System; and NHS Digital Secondary Uses Services and Emergency Care Data Set). The risk for hospital admission and emergency care attendance were compared between patients with sequencing-confirmed delta and alpha variants for the whole cohort and by vaccination status subgroups. Stratified Cox regression was used to adjust for age, sex, ethnicity, deprivation, recent international travel, area of residence, calendar week, and vaccination status. Findings: Individual-level data on 43 338 COVID-19-positive patients (8682 with the delta variant, 34 656 with the alpha variant; median age 31 years [IQR 17–43]) were included in our analysis. 196 (2·3%) patients with the delta variant versus 764 (2·2%) patients with the alpha variant were admitted to hospital within 14 days after the specimen was taken (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 2·26 [95% CI 1·32–3·89]). 498 (5·7%) patients with the delta variant versus 1448 (4·2%) patients with the alpha variant were admitted to hospital or attended emergency care within 14 days (adjusted HR 1·45 [1·08–1·95]). Most patients were unvaccinated (32 078 [74·0%] across both groups). The HRs for vaccinated patients with the delta variant versus the alpha variant (adjusted HR for hospital admission 1·94 [95% CI 0·47–8·05] and for hospital admission or emergency care attendance 1·58 [0·69–3·61]) were similar to the HRs for unvaccinated patients (2·32 [1·29–4·16] and 1·43 [1·04–1·97]; p=0·82 for both) but the precision for the vaccinated subgroup was low. Interpretation: This large national study found a higher hospital admission or emergency care attendance risk for patients with COVID-19 infected with the delta variant compared with the alpha variant. Results suggest that outbreaks of the delta variant in unvaccinated populations might lead to a greater burden on health-care services than the alpha variant. Funding: Medical Research Council; UK Research and Innovation; Department of Health and Social Care; and National Institute for Health Research

    Genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in a UK university identifies dynamics of transmission