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1.
Emerg Infect Dis ; 28(12)2022 Nov 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2099065

ABSTRACT

We investigated a cluster of SARS-CoV-2 infections in a quarantine hotel in Taiwan in December 2021. The cluster involved 3 case patients who lived in nonadjacent rooms on different floors. They had no direct contact during their stay. By direct exploration of the space above the room ceilings, we found residual tunnels, wall defects, and truncated pipes between their rooms. We conducted a simplified tracer-gas experiment to assess the interconnection between rooms. Aerosol transmission through structural defects in floors and walls in this poorly ventilated hotel was the most likely route of virus transmission. This event demonstrates the high transmissibility of Omicron variants, even across rooms and floors, through structural defects. Our findings emphasize the importance of ventilation and integrity of building structure in quarantine facilities.

2.
Health Secur ; 20(5): 368-375, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2028992

ABSTRACT

From April 23 to November 2021, a wave of COVID-19 infections caused by a new Alpha variant swept across Taiwan, resulting in 14,458 positive cases and 830 deaths among over 3.8 million people tested. To cope with the sudden increase in sample volume, as of December 14, 2021, a network of 249 laboratories with a total diagnostic capacity of 158,492 real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests per day was established in 22 administrative regions. As of April 2022, over 9.5 million specimens were tested. Fully automated high-throughput and point-of-care nucleic acid testing, and rapid antigen testing, were simultaneously implemented to expand the country's daily diagnostic capacity. Saliva testing and sample pooling were also introduced to increase screening efficiency in certain situations. Antibody testing and genomic sequencing were also adopted for more precise epidemic investigation. Other challenges encountered and overcome include a lack of resources and interfacing of laboratory information management systems for case reporting, limited specimen allocation and delivery, and limited staff for diagnostic processing.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Nucleic Acids , Humans , COVID-19/epidemiology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19 Testing , Clinical Laboratory Techniques/methods , Laboratories , Taiwan/epidemiology
3.
J Clin Lab Anal ; 36(6): e24491, 2022 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1826010

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The rapid identification and isolation of individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 are fundamental countermeasures for the efficient control of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected millions of people around the world. Real-time RT-PCR is one of the most commonly applied reference methods for virus detection, and the use of pooled testing has been proposed as an effective way to increase the throughput of routine diagnostic tests. However, the clinical applicability of different types of real-time RT-PCR tests in a given group size remains inconclusive due to inconsistent regional disease prevalence and test demands. METHODS: In this study, the performance of one dual-target conventional and two point-of-care real-time RT-PCR tests in a 5-specimen pooled testing strategy for the detection of SARS-COV-2 was evaluated. RESULTS: We demonstrated the proof of concept that all of these real-time RT-PCR tests could feasibly detect SARS-CoV-2 from nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal specimens that contain viral RNA loads in the range of 3.48 × 105 to 3.42 × 102 copies/ml through pooled testing in a group size of 5 with overall positive percent agreement (pooling vs. individual testing) ranging from 100% to 93.75%. Furthermore, the two POC real-time RT-PCR tests exhibited comparable sensitivity to that of the dual-target conventional one when clinical specimens were tested individually. CONCLUSION: Our findings support the feasibility of using real-time RT-PCR tests developed as a variety of platforms in routine laboratory detection of suspected COVID-19 cases through a pooled testing strategy that is beneficial to increasing the daily diagnostic capacity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/diagnosis , Humans , Pandemics , Point-of-Care Systems , Point-of-Care Testing , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Sensitivity and Specificity
4.
J Clin Invest ; 131(21)2021 11 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1495789

ABSTRACT

To explore how the immune system controls clearance of SARS-CoV-2, we used a single-cell, mass cytometry-based proteomics platform to profile the immune systems of 21 patients who had recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection without need for admission to an intensive care unit or for mechanical ventilation. We focused on receptors involved in interactions between immune cells and virus-infected cells. We found that the diversity of receptor repertoires on natural killer (NK) cells was negatively correlated with the viral clearance rate. In addition, NK subsets expressing the receptor DNAM1 were increased in patients who more rapidly recovered from infection. Ex vivo functional studies revealed that NK subpopulations with high DNAM1 expression had cytolytic activities in response to target cell stimulation. We also found that SARS-CoV-2 infection induced the expression of CD155 and nectin-4, ligands of DNAM1 and its paired coinhibitory receptor TIGIT, which counterbalanced the cytolytic activities of NK cells. Collectively, our results link the cytolytic immune responses of NK cells to the clearance of SARS-CoV-2 and show that the DNAM1 pathway modulates host-pathogen interactions during SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Killer Cells, Natural/immunology , Receptors, Natural Killer Cell/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Animals , Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte/immunology , Cell Adhesion Molecules/immunology , Cohort Studies , Cytotoxicity, Immunologic , Female , Heterografts , Host Microbial Interactions/immunology , Humans , Immunophenotyping , In Vitro Techniques , Ligands , Male , Mice , Mice, SCID , Middle Aged , NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily D/immunology , Pandemics , Receptors, Immunologic/immunology , Receptors, Virus/immunology , Viral Load , Young Adult
5.
PeerJ ; 9: e11991, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1459160

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: There is a global pandemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Information on viral genomics is crucial for understanding global dispersion and for providing insight into viral pathogenicity and transmission. Here, we characterized the SARS-CoV-2 genomes isolated from five travelers who returned to Taiwan from the United States of America (USA) between March and April 2020. METHODS: Haplotype network analysis was performed using genome-wide single-nucleotide variations to trace potential infection routes. To determine the genetic variations and evolutionary trajectory of the isolates, the genomes of isolates were compared to those of global virus strains from GISAID. Pharyngeal specimens were confirmed to be SARS-CoV-2-positive by RT-PCR. Direct whole-genome sequencing was performed, and viral assemblies were subsequently uploaded to GISAID. Comparative genome sequence and single-nucleotide variation analyses were performed. RESULTS: The D614G mutation was identified in imported cases, which separated into two clusters related to viruses originally detected in the USA. Our findings highlight the risk of spreading SARS-CoV-2 variants through air travel and the need for continued genomic tracing for the epidemiological investigation and surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 using viral genomic data. CONCLUSIONS: Continuous genomic surveillance is warranted to trace virus circulation and evolution in different global settings during future outbreaks.

6.
J Microbiol Immunol Infect ; 2021 Sep 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1386072

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Mass screening for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is important to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Pooling samples can increase the number of tests processed. LabTurbo AIO 48 is an automated platform that allows ribonucleic acid extraction and sample analysis on the same instrument. We created a novel pooling assay on this platform for SARS-CoV-2 detection and demonstrated that the pooling strategy increases testing capacity without affecting accuracy and sensitivity. METHODS: Comparative limit of detection (LoD) assessment was performed on the LabTurbo AIO 48 platform and the current standard detection system based on real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) using 55 clinically positive samples. An additional 330 primary clinical samples were assessed. RESULTS: Six samples pooled into one reaction tube were detected in approximately 2.5 h using the World Health Organization rRT-PCR protocol. LabTurbo AIO 48 also demonstrated a higher throughput than our reference rRT-PCR assay, with an LoD of 1000 copies/mL. The overall percentage agreement between the methods for the 330 samples was 100%. CONCLUSION: We created a novel multi-specimen pooling assay using LabTurbo AIO 48 for the robust detection of SARS-CoV-2, allowing high-throughput results; this assay will aid in better control and prevention of COVID-19. The diagnostic assay was cost-effective and time-efficient; thus, the pooling strategy is a practical and effective method for diagnosing large quantities of specimens without compromising precision.

7.
Infect Drug Resist ; 14: 3255-3261, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1372036

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: Accurate molecular diagnostic assays for detecting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of COVID-19, are needed for epidemiology studies and to support infection-control measures. We evaluated the analytical sensitivity and clinical performance of three sample-to-answer molecular-diagnostics systems for detecting SARS-CoV-2 using 325 nasopharyngeal swab clinical samples from symptomatic patients. METHODS: The BioFire Respiratory Panel 2.1 (RP2.1), cobas Liat SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza A/B, and Cepheid Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2/Flu/RSV platforms, which have been granted emergency-use authorization by the US FDA, were tested and compared. RESULTS: The positive percent agreement, negative percent agreement, and overall percent agreement among the three point of care testing systems were 98-100%, including for the wild-type SARS-CoV-2 (non-B.1.1.7) and a variant of concern (B.1.1.7). Notably, the BioFire RP2.1 may fail to detect the SARS-CoV-2 S gene in the B.1.1.7 lineage because of the spike protein mutation. CONCLUSION: All three point of care testing platforms provided highly sensitive, robust, and almost accurate results for rapidly detecting SARS-CoV-2. These automated molecular diagnostic assays can increase the effectiveness of control and prevention measures for infectious diseases.

8.
PLoS Pathog ; 17(3): e1009407, 2021 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1338134

ABSTRACT

Incessant antigenic evolution enables the persistence and spread of influenza virus in the human population. As the principal target of the immune response, the hemagglutinin (HA) surface antigen on influenza viruses continuously acquires and replaces N-linked glycosylation sites to shield immunogenic protein epitopes using host-derived glycans. Anti-glycan antibodies, such as 2G12, target the HIV-1 envelope protein (Env), which is even more extensively glycosylated and contains under-processed oligomannose-type clusters on its dense glycan shield. Here, we illustrate that 2G12 can also neutralize human seasonal influenza A H3N2 viruses that have evolved to present similar oligomannose-type clusters on their HAs from around 20 years after the 1968 pandemic. Using structural biology and mass spectrometric approaches, we find that two N-glycosylation sites close to the receptor binding site (RBS) on influenza hemagglutinin represent the oligomannose cluster recognized by 2G12. One of these glycan sites is highly conserved in all human H3N2 strains and the other emerged during virus evolution. These two N-glycosylation sites have also become crucial for fitness of recent H3N2 strains. These findings shed light on the evolution of the glycan shield on influenza virus and suggest 2G12-like antibodies can potentially act as broad neutralizers to target human enveloped viruses.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/immunology , HIV-1/immunology , Hemagglutinin Glycoproteins, Influenza Virus/immunology , Influenza A Virus, H3N2 Subtype/immunology , Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies , Cross Reactions , HIV Infections/immunology , Humans , Influenza, Human/immunology
9.
Infect Drug Resist ; 14: 971-977, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1143341

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global public health crisis. Taiwan experienced two waves of imported cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), first from China in January to late February, 2020 then from other countries starting in early March. As of Dec 14, 2020, 733 cases have been reported in Taiwan, with cases of entire families being infected. This study aimed to investigate the clinical characteristics and differentiation of genetic variation among isolates from a cluster of familial COVID-19 infection. The parents had pneumonia (Case 14, father, and Case 15, mother), the elder son (Case 17) had mild cough, and the younger son (Case 18) was asymptomatic. In this study, four full viral genomes were sequenced by Illumina sequencing directly from specimens. Phylogenetic tree analysis revealed that these sequences came from Italy, not China, indicating that no major strain has been circulating in Taiwan. Several novel mutations were observed in the asymptomatic patient, such as nsp2, nsp12, and nsp14. These mutations may be associated with the severity of COVID-19 infection.

10.
Emerg Microbes Infect ; 10(1): 161-166, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1012801

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 has spread rapidly, causing deaths worldwide. In this study, we evaluated the performance of the BD MAX Open System module for identifying viral pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2, in nasopharyngeal specimens from individuals with symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection. We developed and validated a rapid total nucleic acid extraction method based on real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for the reliable, high-throughput simultaneous detection of common cold viral pathogens using the BD MAX Platform. The system was evaluated using 205 nasopharyngeal swab clinical samples. For assessment of the limit of detection (LoD), we used SARS-CoV-2, influenza A/B, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) RNA standards. The BD MAX dual multiplex real-time RT-PCR panel demonstrated a sensitivity comparable to that of the World Health Organization-recommended SARS-CoV-2 assay with an LoD of 50 copies/PCR. The LoD of influenza A/B and RSV was 100-200 copies/PCR. The overall percent agreement between the BD MAX panel and laboratory-developed RT-PCR test on 55 SARS-CoV-2-positive clinical samples was 100%. Among the 55 positive cases of COVID-19 analysed, no coinfection was detected. The BD MAX rapid multiplex PCR provides a highly sensitive, robust, and accurate assay for the rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2, influenza A/B, and RSV.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/diagnosis , Influenza, Human/diagnosis , Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/diagnosis , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19 Testing , Coinfection/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , Young Adult
11.
Health Secur ; 2020 Aug 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-725856

ABSTRACT

Through early and proactive laboratory testing of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes novel coronavirus 2019, Taiwan has demonstrated an efficient and rapid control response to contain the outbreak. Two days after the World Health Organization announced the complete viral genome sequence, the national laboratory of the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control developed a specific real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (real-time RT-PCR) test for SARS-CoV-2. The national laboratory network was further strengthened through the recruitment of medical centers and regional hospitals distributed throughout most geographical regions of the country. Ultimately, a network of 60 laboratories with a capacity of 7,342 real-time RT-PCR tests per day was established. Between January 14 and August 5, 2020, a total of 158,772 tests were conducted, corresponding to 120,487 cases. Test results were obtained within 24 hours, enabling an efficient and rapid control response.

12.
Emerg Microbes Infect ; 9(1): 1457-1466, 2020 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-599993

ABSTRACT

Taiwan experienced two waves of imported infections with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). This study aimed at investigating the genomic variation of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in Taiwan and compared their evolutionary trajectories with the global strains. We performed culture and full-genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 strains followed by phylogenetic analysis. A 382-nucleotides deletion in open reading frame 8 (ORF8) was found in a Taiwanese strain isolated from a patient on February 4, 2020 who had a travel history to Wuhan. Patients in the first wave also included several sporadic, local transmission cases. Genomes of 5 strains sequenced from clustered infections were classified into a new clade with ORF1ab-V378I mutation, in addition to 3 dominant clades ORF8-L84S, ORF3a-G251V and S-D614G. This highlighted clade also included some strains isolated from patients who had a travel history to Turkey and Iran. The second wave mostly resulted from patients who had a travel history to Europe and Americas. All Taiwanese viruses were classified into various clades. Genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in Taiwan revealed a new ORF8-deletion mutant and a virus clade that may be associated with infections in the Middle East, which contributed to a better understanding of the global SARS-CoV-2 transmission dynamics.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Genome, Viral , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Animals , Betacoronavirus/classification , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , COVID-19 , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Haemophilus parainfluenzae/isolation & purification , Humans , Middle East , Open Reading Frames , Pandemics , Phylogeny , RNA, Viral , SARS-CoV-2 , Sequence Deletion , Taiwan , Travel , Vero Cells , Virus Cultivation , Whole Genome Sequencing
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