Publications by authors named "Sabine Yerly"

152 Publications

SARS-CoV-2 infection as a trigger of humoral response against apolipoprotein A-1.

Eur J Clin Invest 2021 Nov 4;51(11):e13661. Epub 2021 Aug 4.

Division of Laboratory Medicine, Department of Diagnostics and of Medical Specialties, Geneva University Hospitals and Geneva University, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: Unravelling autoimmune targets triggered by SARS-CoV-2 infection may provide crucial insights into the physiopathology of the disease and foster the development of potential therapeutic candidate targets and prognostic tools. We aimed at determining (a) the association between anti-SARS-CoV-2 and anti-apoA-1 humoral response and (b) the degree of linear homology between SARS-CoV-2, apoA-1 and Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) epitopes.

Design: Bioinformatics modelling coupled with mimic peptides engineering and competition experiments were used to assess epitopes sequence homologies. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 and anti-apoA-1 IgG as well as cytokines were assessed by immunoassays on a case-control (n = 101), an intensive care unit (ICU; n = 126) and a general population cohort (n = 663) with available samples in the pre and post-pandemic period.

Results: Using bioinformatics modelling, linear sequence homologies between apoA-1, TLR2 and Spike epitopes were identified but without experimental evidence of cross-reactivity. Overall, anti-apoA-1 IgG levels were higher in COVID-19 patients or anti-SARS-CoV-2 seropositive individuals than in healthy donors or anti-SARS-CoV-2 seronegative individuals (P < .0001). Significant and similar associations were noted between anti-apoA-1, anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG, cytokines and lipid profile. In ICU patients, anti-SARS-CoV-2 and anti-apoA-1 seroconversion rates displayed similar 7-day kinetics, reaching 82% for anti-apoA-1 seropositivity. In the general population, SARS-CoV-2-exposed individuals displayed higher anti-apoA-1 IgG seropositivity rates than nonexposed ones (34% vs 16.8%; P = .004).

Conclusion: COVID-19 induces a marked humoral response against the major protein of high-density lipoproteins. As a correlate of poorer prognosis in other clinical settings, such autoimmunity signatures may relate to long-term COVID-19 prognosis assessment and warrant further scrutiny in the current COVID-19 pandemic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/eci.13661DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8420318PMC
November 2021

Identifying and Characterizing Trans women in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study as an Epidemiologically Distinct Risk Group.

Clin Infect Dis 2021 Jul 20. Epub 2021 Jul 20.

Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Background: As trans women are disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic, and are still understudied, we aimed to identify and characterize the trans women in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study (SHCS).

Methods: A combination of criteria from pre-existing cohort data was used to identify trans women. Information on socioeconomic factors, clinical data, risk behaviors, and mental health was collected. We also described their phylogenetic patterns within HIV transmission networks in relation to other risk groups.

Results: We identified 89 trans women out of a total 20925 cohort participants. Trans women were much more likely to be Asian (30.3%) and Hispanic (15.7%) compared to men-who-have-sex with-men/MSM (2.5% and 4.1%, P value<0.001) and cis heterosexual (HET) women (7.0% and 3.3%, P value<0.001). Trans women were more similar to cis HET women in some measures like education level (post-secondary education attainment: 22.6% and 20.7% [P value =0.574], vs. 46.5% for MSM [P value<0.001]), while being more similar to MSM for measures like prior syphilis diagnosis (36.0% and 44.0% [P value=0.170], vs. 6.7% for cis HET women [P value <0.001]). 11.2% of trans women have been priorly hospitalized for psychological reasons, compared to 4.2% of MSM (P value=0.004) and 5.1% of cis HET women (P value=0.025). An analysis of transmission clusters containing trans women suggested greater affinity within the transmission networks to MSM compared to cis HET women.

Conclusions: Trans women are epidemiologically distinct in the setting of the Swiss HIV epidemic, warranting better identification and study to better serve this underserved risk group.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciab628DOI Listing
July 2021

Increasing Frequency and Transmission of HIV-1 Non-B Subtypes among Men Who Have Sex with Men in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study.

J Infect Dis 2021 Jul 14. Epub 2021 Jul 14.

Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Zurich, 8091 Zurich, Switzerland.

Background: In Switzerland, HIV-1 transmission among men who have sex with men (MSM) has been dominated by subtype B, whilst non-B subtypes are commonly attributed to infections acquired abroad among heterosexuals. Here, we evaluated the temporal trends of non-B subtypes and the characteristics of molecular transmission clusters (MTCs) among MSM.

Methods: Sociodemographic and clinical data and partial pol sequences were obtained from participants enrolled in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study (SHCS). For non-B subtypes, maximum likelihood trees were constructed, from which Swiss MTCs were identified and analysed by transmission group.

Results: Non-B subtypes were identified in 8.1% (416/5,116) of MSM participants. CRF01_AE was the most prevalent strain (3.5%), followed by A (1.2%), F (1.1%), CRF02_AG (1.1%), C (0.9%), and G (0.3%). Between 1990 and 2019, an increase in the proportion of newly diagnosed individuals (0/123[0%] to 11/32 [34%]) with non-B subtypes in MSM was found. Across all non-B subtypes, the majority of MSM MTCs were European. Larger MTCs were observed for MSM than heterosexuals.

Conclusions: We found a substantial increase in HIV-1 non-B subtypes among MSM in Switzerland and the occurrence of large MTCs, highlighting the importance of molecular surveillance in guiding public health strategies targeting the HIV-1 epidemic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiab360DOI Listing
July 2021

Persistence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies: immunoassay heterogeneity and implications for serosurveillance.

Clin Microbiol Infect 2021 Nov 7;27(11):1695.e7-1695.e12. Epub 2021 Jul 7.

Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA; Institute of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland; Unit of Population Epidemiology, Division of Primary Care Medicine, Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland. Electronic address:

Objectives: Serological studies have been critical in tracking the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data on anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies persistence remain sparse, especially from infected individuals with few to no symptoms. The objective of the study was to quantify the sensitivity for detecting historic SARS-CoV-2 infections as a function of time since infection for three commercially available SARS-CoV-2 immunoassays and to explore the implications of decaying immunoassay sensitivity in estimating seroprevalence.

Methods: We followed a cohort of mostly mild/asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals (n = 354) at least 8 months after their presumed infection date and tested their serum for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies with three commercially available assays: Roche-N, Roche-RBD and EuroImmun-S1. We developed a latent class statistical model to infer the specificity and time-varying sensitivity of each assay and show through simulations how inappropriately accounting for test performance can lead to biased serosurvey estimates.

Results: Antibodies were detected at follow-up in 74-100% of participants, depending on immunoassays. Both Roche assays maintain high sensitivity, with the EuroImmun assay missing 40% of infections after 9 months. Simulations reveal that without appropriate adjustment for time-varying assay sensitivity, seroprevalence surveys may underestimate infection rates.

Discussion: Antibodies persist for at least 8 months after infection in a cohort of mildly infected individuals with detection depending on assay choice. Appropriate assay performance adjustment is important for the interpretation of serological studies in the case of diminishing sensitivity after infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cmi.2021.06.040DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8261139PMC
November 2021

Development and validation of the OUTCoV score to predict the risk of hospitalisation among patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection in ambulatory settings: a prospective cohort study.

BMJ Open 2021 06 18;11(6):e044242. Epub 2021 Jun 18.

Division of Primary Care, Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland.

Objectives: To develop and validate a rule-out prediction model for the risk of hospitalisation among patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection in the ambulatory setting to derive a simple score to determine outpatient follow-up.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: Swiss university hospital.

Participants: 1459 individuals with a positive result for SARS-CoV-2 infection between 2 March and 23 April 2020.

Methods: We applied the rule of 10 events per variable to construct our multivariable model and included a maximum of eight covariates. We assessed the model performance in terms of discrimination and calibration and performed internal validation to estimate the statistical optimism of the final model. The final prediction model included age, fever, dyspnoea, hypertension and chronic respiratory disease. To develop the OUTCoV score, we assigned points for each predictor that were proportional to the coefficients of the regression equation. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative likelihood ratios were estimated, including positive and negative predictive values in different thresholds.

Main Outcome Measure: The primary outcome was COVID-19-related hospitalisation.

Results: The OUTCoV score ranged from 0 to 7.5 points. The two threshold parameters with optimal rule-out and rule-in characteristics for the risk of hospitalisation were 3 and 5.5, respectively. Outpatients with a score <3 (997/1459; 68.3%) had no follow-up as at low risk of hospitalisation (1.8%; 95% CI 1.1 to 2.8). For a score ≥5.5 (20/1459; 1.4%), the hospitalisation risk was higher (30%; 95% CI 11.9 to 54.3).

Conclusions: The OUTCoV score allows to rule out two-thirds of outpatients with SARS-CoV-2 infection presenting a low hospitalisation risk and to identify those at high risk that require careful follow-up to assess the need for hospitalisation. The model provides a simple decision-making tool for an effective allocation of resources to maintain quality care for outpatient populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-044242DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8214986PMC
June 2021

Large variation in anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody prevalence among essential workers in Geneva, Switzerland.

Nat Commun 2021 06 8;12(1):3455. Epub 2021 Jun 8.

Department of Health and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.

Limited data exist on SARS-CoV-2 infection rates across sectors and occupations, hindering our ability to make rational policy, including vaccination prioritization, to protect workers and limit SARS-CoV-2 spread. Here, we present results from our SEROCoV-WORK + study, a serosurvey of workers recruited after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Geneva, Switzerland. We tested workers (May 18-September 18, 2020) from 16 sectors and 32 occupations for anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies. Of 10,513 participants, 1026 (9.8%) tested positive. The seropositivity rate ranged from 4.2% in the media sector to 14.3% in the nursing home sector. We found considerable within-sector variability: nursing home (0%-31.4%), homecare (3.9%-12.6%), healthcare (0%-23.5%), public administration (2.6%-24.6%), and public security (0%-16.7%). Seropositivity rates also varied across occupations, from 15.0% among kitchen staff and 14.4% among nurses, to 5.4% among domestic care workers and 2.8% among journalists. Our findings show that seropositivity rates varied widely across sectors, between facilities within sectors, and across occupations, reflecting a higher exposure in certain sectors and occupations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23796-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8187639PMC
June 2021

Systematic screening of viral and human genetic variation identifies antiretroviral resistance and immune escape link.

Elife 2021 06 1;10. Epub 2021 Jun 1.

Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Background: Considering the remaining threat of drug-resistantmutations (DRMs) to antiretroviral treatment (ART) efficacy, we investigated how the selective pressure of human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-restricted cytotoxic T lymphocytes drives certain DRMs' emergence and retention.

Methods: We systematically screened DRM:HLA class I allele combinations in 3997 ART-naïve Swiss HIV Cohort Study (SHCS) patients. For each pair, a logistic regression model preliminarily tested for an association with the DRM as the outcome. The three HLA:DRM pairs remaining after multiple testing adjustment were analyzed in three ways: cross-sectional logistic regression models to determine any HLA/infection time interaction, survival analyses to examine if HLA type correlated with developing specific DRMs, and via NetMHCpan to find epitope binding evidence of immune escape.

Results: Only one pair, RT-E138:HLA-B18, exhibited a significant interaction between infection duration and HLA. The survival analyses predicted two pairs with an increased hazard of developing DRMs: RT-E138:HLA-B18 and RT-V179:HLA-B35. RT-E138:HLA-B18 exhibited the greatest significance in both analyses (interaction term odds ratio [OR] 1.169 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.075-1.273]; p-value<0.001; survival hazard ratio 12.211 [95% CI 3.523-42.318]; p-value<0.001). The same two pairs were also predicted by netMHCpan to have epitopic binding.

Conclusions: We identified DRM:HLA pairs where HLA presence is associated with the presence or emergence of the DRM, indicating that the selective pressure for these mutations alternates direction depending on the presence of these HLA alleles.

Funding: Funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation within the framework of the SHCS, and the University of Zurich, University Research Priority Program: Evolution in Action: From Genomes Ecosystems, in Switzerland.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.67388DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8169104PMC
June 2021

Analytical Evaluation of Visby Medical RT-PCR Portable Device for Rapid Detection of SARS-CoV-2.

Diagnostics (Basel) 2021 Apr 29;11(5). Epub 2021 Apr 29.

Laboratory of Virology, Laboratory Medicine Division, Diagnostic Department, Geneva University Hospitals, CH-1211 Geneva, Switzerland.

Extended community testing constitutes one of the main strategic pillars in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. Reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) targeting the SARS-CoV-2 genome on nasopharyngeal swab samples is currently the reference test. While displaying excellent analytical sensitivity and specificity, this test is costly, often requires a substantial turnaround time, and, more importantly, is subject to reagent and other material shortages. To complement this technology, rapid antigen tests have been developed and made available worldwide, allowing cheap, quick, and decentralized SARS-CoV-2 testing. The main drawback of these tests is the reduced sensitivity when RT-PCR is the gold standard. In this study, we evaluate Visby an innovative, portable, easy-to-use RT-PCR point-of-care (POC) diagnostic device. Our retrospective analysis shows that overall, compared to the Cobas 6800 RT-qPCR assay (Roche), this RT-PCR POC technology detects SARS-CoV-2 RNA with 95% sensitivity (95%CI = 86.3-99%) and 100% specificity (95% CI = 80.5-100%). For samples with cycle-threshold values below 31, we observed 100% sensitivity (95% CI = 66.4-100%). While showing an analytical sensitivity slightly below that of a standard RT-qPCR system, the evaluated Visby RT-PCR POC device may prove to be an interesting diagnostic alternative in the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially combining the practical advantages of rapid antigen tests and the robust analytical performances of nucleic acid detection systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics11050813DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8146445PMC
April 2021

Head-to-Head Evaluation of Five Automated SARS-CoV-2 Serology Immunoassays in Various Prevalence Settings.

J Clin Med 2021 Apr 10;10(8). Epub 2021 Apr 10.

Division of Laboratory Medicine, Department of Diagnostics, Geneva University Hospitals and Geneva University, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland.

Purpose: To assess the diagnostic performances of five automated anti-SARS-CoV-2 immunoassays, Epitope (N), Diasorin (S1/S2), Euroimmun (S1), Roche N (N), and Roche S (S-RBD), and to provide a testing strategy based on pre-test probability.

Methods: We assessed the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) areas under the curve (AUC) values, along with the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive values (PPVs), and negative predictive values (NPVs), of each assay using a validation sample set of 172 COVID-19 sera and 185 negative controls against a validated S1-immunofluorescence as a reference method. The three assays displaying the highest AUCs were selected for further serodetection of 2033 sera of a large population-based cohort.

Results: In the validation analysis (pre-test probability: 48.1%), Roche N, Roche S and Euroimmun showed the highest discriminant accuracy (AUCs: 0.99, 0.98, and 0.98) with PPVs and NPVs above 96% and 94%, respectively. In the population-based cohort (pre-test probability: 6.2%) these three assays displayed AUCs above 0.97 and PPVs and NPVs above 90.5% and 99.4%, respectively. A sequential strategy using an anti-S assay as screening test and an anti-N as confirmatory assays resulted in a 96.7% PPV and 99.5% NPV, respectively.

Conclusions: Euroimmun and both Roche assays performed equally well in high pre-test probability settings. At a lower prevalence, sequentially combining anti-S and anti-N assays resulted in the optimal trade-off between diagnostic performances and operational considerations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm10081605DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8069412PMC
April 2021

Efficacy and safety of ravidasvir plus sofosbuvir in patients with chronic hepatitis C infection without cirrhosis or with compensated cirrhosis (STORM-C-1): interim analysis of a two-stage, open-label, multicentre, single arm, phase 2/3 trial.

Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol 2021 06 16;6(6):448-458. Epub 2021 Apr 16.

Ministry of Health, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Background: In low-income and middle-income countries, affordable direct-acting antivirals are urgently needed to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The combination of ravidasvir, a pangenotypic non-structural protein 5A (NS5A) inhibitor, and sofosbuvir has shown efficacy and safety in patients with chronic HCV genotype 4 infection. STORM-C-1 trial aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of ravidasvir plus sofosbuvir in a diverse population of adults chronically infected with HCV.

Methods: STORM-C-1 is a two-stage, open-label, phase 2/3 single-arm clinical trial in six public academic and non-academic centres in Malaysia and four public academic and non-academic centres in Thailand. Patients with HCV with compensated cirrhosis (Metavir F4 and Child-Turcotte-Pugh class A) or without cirrhosis (Metavir F0-3) aged 18-69 years were eligible to participate, regardless of HCV genotype, HIV infection status, previous interferon-based HCV treatment, or source of HCV infection. Once daily ravidasvir (200 mg) and sofosbuvir (400 mg) were prescribed for 12 weeks for patients without cirrhosis and for 24 weeks for those with cirrhosis. The primary endpoint was sustained virological response at 12 weeks after treatment (SVR12; defined as HCV RNA <12 IU/mL in Thailand and HCV RNA <15 IU/mL in Malaysia at 12 weeks after the end of treatment). This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT02961426, and the National Medical Research Register of Malaysia, NMRR-16-747-29183.

Findings: Between Sept 14, 2016, and June 5, 2017, 301 patients were enrolled in stage one of STORM-C-1. 98 (33%) patients had genotype 1a infection, 27 (9%) had genotype 1b infection, two (1%) had genotype 2 infection, 158 (52%) had genotype 3 infection, and 16 (5%) had genotype 6 infection. 81 (27%) patients had compensated cirrhosis, 90 (30%) had HIV co-infection, and 99 (33%) had received previous interferon-based treatment. The most common treatment-emergent adverse events were pyrexia (35 [12%]), cough (26 [9%]), upper respiratory tract infection (23 [8%]), and headache (20 [7%]). There were no deaths or treatment discontinuations due to serious adverse events related to study drugs. Of the 300 patients included in the full analysis set, 291 (97%; 95% CI 94-99) had SVR12. Of note, SVR12 was reported in 78 (96%) of 81 patients with cirrhosis and 153 (97%) of 158 patients with genotype 3 infection, including 51 (96%) of 53 patients with cirrhosis. There was no difference in SVR12 rates by HIV co-infection or previous interferon treatment.

Interpretation: In this first stage, ravidasvir plus sofosbuvir was effective and well tolerated in this diverse adult population of patients with chronic HCV infection. Ravidasvir plus sofosbuvir has the potential to provide an additional affordable, simple, and efficacious public health tool for large-scale implementation to eliminate HCV as a cause of morbidity and mortality.

Funding: National Science and Technology Development Agency, Thailand; Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand; Ministry of Health, Malaysia; UK Aid; Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF); MSF Transformational Investment Capacity; FIND; Pharmaniaga; Starr International Foundation; Foundation for Art, Research, Partnership and Education; and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2468-1253(21)00031-5DOI Listing
June 2021

SARS-CoV-2 N501Y Introductions and Transmissions in Switzerland from Beginning of October 2020 to February 2021-Implementation of Swiss-Wide Diagnostic Screening and Whole Genome Sequencing.

Microorganisms 2021 Mar 25;9(4). Epub 2021 Mar 25.

Applied Microbiology Research, Department of Biomedicine, University of Basel, 4056 Basel, Switzerland.

The rapid spread of the SARS-CoV-2 lineages B.1.1.7 (N501Y.V1) throughout the UK, B.1.351 (N501Y.V2) in South Africa, and P.1 (B.1.1.28.1; N501Y.V3) in Brazil has led to the definition of variants of concern (VoCs) and recommendations for lineage specific surveillance. In Switzerland, during the last weeks of December 2020, we established a nationwide screening protocol across multiple laboratories, focusing first on epidemiological and microbiological definitions. In January 2021, we validated and implemented an N501Y-specific PCR to rapidly screen for VoCs, which are then confirmed using amplicon sequencing or whole genome sequencing (WGS). A total of 13,387 VoCs have been identified since the detection of the first Swiss case in October 2020, with 4194 being B.1.1.7, 172 B.1.351, and 7 P.1. The remaining 9014 cases of VoCs have been described without further lineage specification. Overall, all diagnostic centers reported a rapid increase of the percentage of detected VOCs, with a range of 6 to 46% between 25 to 31 of January 2021 increasing towards 41 to 82% between 22 to 28 of February. A total of 739 N501Y positive genomes were analysed and show a broad range of introduction events to Switzerland. In this paper, we describe the nationwide coordination and implementation process across laboratories, public health institutions, and researchers, the first results of our N501Y-specific variant screening, and the phylogenetic analysis of all available WGS data in Switzerland, that together identified the early introduction events and subsequent community spreading of the VoCs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9040677DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8064472PMC
March 2021

Severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) seroconversion and occupational exposure of employees at a Swiss university hospital: A large longitudinal cohort study.

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2021 Mar 19:1-8. Epub 2021 Mar 19.

Infection Control Program and WHO Collaborating Centre on Patient Safety, University of Geneva Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: The dynamics of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) seroconversion of hospital employees are understudied. We measured the proportion of seroconverted employees and evaluated risk factors for seroconversion during the first pandemic wave.

Methods: In this prospective cohort study, we recruited Geneva University Hospitals employees and sampled them 3 times, every 3 weeks from March 30 to June 12, 2020. We measured the proportion of seroconverted employees and determined prevalence ratios of risk factors for seroconversion using multivariate mixed-effects Poisson regression models.

Results: Overall, 3,421 participants (29% of all employees) were included, with 92% follow-up. The proportion of seroconverted employees increased from 4.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.7%-5.1%) at baseline to 8.5% [(95% CI, 7.6%-9.5%) at the last visit. The proportions of seroconverted employees working in COVID-19 geriatrics and rehabilitation (G&R) wards (32.3%) and non-COVID-19 G&R wards (12.3%) were higher compared to office workers (4.9%) at the last visit. Only nursing assistants had a significantly higher risk of seroconversion compared to office workers (11.7% vs 4.9%; P = .006). Significant risk factors for seroconversion included the use of public transportation (adjusted prevalence ratio, 1.59; 95% CI, 1.25-2.03), known community exposure to severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (2.80; 95% CI, 2.22-3.54), working in a ward with a nosocomial COVID outbreak (2.93; 95% CI, 2.27-3.79), and working in a COVID-19 G&R ward (3.47; 95% CI, 2.45-4.91) or a non-COVID-19 G&R ward (1.96; 95% CI, 1.46-2.63). We observed an association between reported use of respirators and lower risk of seroconversion (0.73; 95% CI, 0.55-0.96).

Conclusion: Additional preventive measures should be implemented to protect employees in G&R wards. Randomized trials on the protective effect of respirators are urgently needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/ice.2021.117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8082127PMC
March 2021

Antibody persistence in the first 6 months following SARS-CoV-2 infection among hospital workers: a prospective longitudinal study.

Clin Microbiol Infect 2021 Jan 20. Epub 2021 Jan 20.

Laboratory of Virology, Department of Diagnostics, Geneva University Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine, 4 rue Gabrielle-Perret-Gentil, 1211 Geneve 4, Switzerland; Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Geneva University Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine, 4 rue Gabrielle-Perret-Gentil, 1211 Geneve 4, Geneva Switzerland; Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases, Geneva University Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine, 4 rue Gabrielle-Perret-Gentil, 1211 Geneve 4, Switzerland.

Objectives: To evaluate longitudinally the persistence of humoral immunity for up to 6 months in a cohort of hospital employees with mild coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Methods: We measured anti-RBD (receptor binding domain of viral spike protein), anti-N (viral nucleoprotein) and neutralizing antibodies at 1, 3 and 6 months after mostly mild COVID-19 in 200 hospital workers using commercial ELISAs and a surrogate virus neutralization assay.

Results: Antibodies specific for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) persisted in all participants for up to 6 months. Anti-RBD geometric mean concentrations (GMCs) progressively increased between months 1 (74.2 U/mL, 95%CI: 62.7-87.8), 3 (103.2 U/mL, 95%CI: 87.9-121.2; p < 0.001), and 6 (123.3 U/mL, 95%CI: 103.4-147.0; p < 0.001) in the whole cohort. Anti-N antibodies were detectable in >97% at all times. Neutralizing antibodies were detectable in 99.5% of participants (195/196) at 6 months post infection. Their GMC progressively decreased between months 1 (20.1 AU/mL, 95%CI: 16.9-24.0), 3 (15.2 AU/mL, 95%CI: 13.2-17.6; p < 0.001) and 6 (9.4 AU/mL, 95%CI: 7.7-11.4; p < 0.001). RBD-ACE2-inhibiting antibody titres and anti-RBD antibody concentrations strongly correlated at each timepoint (all r > 0.86, p < 0.001). Disease severity was associated with higher initial anti-RBD and RBD-ACE2-inhibiting antibody titres, but not with their kinetics.

Conclusions: Neutralizing antibodies persisted at 6 months in almost all participants, indicating more durability than initially feared. Anti-RBD antibodies persisted better and even increased over time, possibly related to the preferential detection of progressively higher-affinity antibodies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cmi.2021.01.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7816882PMC
January 2021

Efficacy and safety of dolutegravir plus emtricitabine versus standard ART for the maintenance of HIV-1 suppression: 48-week results of the factorial, randomized, non-inferiority SIMPL'HIV trial.

PLoS Med 2020 11 10;17(11):e1003421. Epub 2020 Nov 10.

HIV/AIDS Unit, Department of Infectious Diseases, Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: Dolutegravir (DTG)-based dual therapy is becoming a new paradigm for both the initiation and maintenance of HIV treatment. The SIMPL'HIV study investigated the outcomes of virologically suppressed patients on standard combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) switching to DTG + emtricitabine (FTC). We present the 48-week efficacy and safety data on DTG + FTC versus cART.

Methods And Findings: SIMPL'HIV was a multicenter, open-label, non-inferiority randomized trial with a factorial design among treatment-experienced people with HIV in Switzerland. Participants were enrolled between 12 May 2017 and 30 May 2018. Patients virologically suppressed for at least 24 weeks on standard cART were randomized 1:1 to switching to DTG + FTC or to continuing cART, and 1:1 to simplified patient-centered monitoring versus standard monitoring. The primary endpoint was the proportion of patients virologically suppressed with <100 copies/ml through 48 weeks. The secondary endpoints included virological suppression at 48 weeks according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) snapshot analysis. Non-inferiority of DTG + FTC versus cART for viral suppression was assessed using a stratified Mantel-Haenszel risk difference, with non-inferiority declared if the lower bound of the 95% confidence interval was greater than -12%. Adverse events were monitored to assess safety. Quality of life was evaluated using the PROQOL-HIV questionnaire. Ninety-three participants were randomized to DTG + FTC, and 94 individuals to cART. Median nadir CD4 count was 246 cells/mm3; median age was 48 years; 17% of participants were female. DTG + FTC was non-inferior to cART. The proportion of patients with viral suppression (<100 copies/ml) through 48 weeks was 93.5% in the DTG + FTC arm and 94.7% in the cART arm in the intention-to-treat population (risk difference -1.2%; 95% CI -7.8% to 5.6%). Per-protocol analysis showed similar results, with viral suppression in 96.5% of patients in both arms (risk difference 0.0%; 95% CI -5.6% to 5.5%). There was no relevant interaction between the type of treatment and monitoring (interaction ratio 0.98; 95% CI 0.85 to 1.13; p = 0.81). Using the FDA snapshot algorithm, 84/93 (90.3%) participants in the DTG + FTC arm had an HIV-1 RNA viral load of <50 copies/ml compared to 86/94 (91.5%) participants on standard cART (risk difference -1.1%; 95% CI -9.3% to 7.1%; p = 0.791). The overall proportion of patients with adverse events and discontinuations did not differ by randomization arm. The proportion of patients with serious adverse events was higher in the cART arm (16%) compared to the DTG + FTC arm (6.5%) (p = 0.041), but none was considered to be related to the study medication. Quality of life improved more between baseline and week 48 in the DTG + FTC compared to the cART arm (adjusted difference +2.6; 95% CI +0.4 to +4.7). The study's main limitations included a rather small proportion of women included, the open label design, and its short duration.

Conclusions: In this study, DTG + FTC as maintenance therapy was non-inferior to cART in terms of efficacy, with a similar safety profile and a greater improvement in quality of life, thus expanding the offer of 2-drug simplification options among virologically suppressed individuals.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03160105.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003421DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7654764PMC
November 2020

HCV Genetic Diversity Can Be Used to Infer Infection Recency and Time since Infection.

Viruses 2020 10 31;12(11). Epub 2020 Oct 31.

Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Zurich, CH-8091 Zurich, Switzerland.

HIV-1 genetic diversity can be used to infer time since infection (TSI) and infection recency. We adapted this approach for HCV and identified genomic regions with informative diversity. We included 72 HCV/HIV-1 coinfected participants of the Swiss HIV Cohort Study, for whom reliable estimates of infection date and viral sequences were available. Average pairwise diversity (APD) was calculated over each codon position for the entire open reading frame of HCV. Utilizing cross validation, we evaluated the correlation of APD with TSI, and its ability to infer TSI via a linear model. We additionally studied the ability of diversity to classify infections as recent (infected for <1 year) or chronic, using receiver-operator-characteristic area under the curve (ROC-AUC) in 50 patients whose infection could be unambiguously classified as either recent or chronic. Measuring HCV diversity over third or all codon positions gave similar performances, and notable improvement over first or second codon positions. APD calculated over the entire genome enabled classification of infection recency (ROC-AUC = 0.76). Additionally, APD correlated with TSI (R = 0.33) and could predict TSI (mean absolute error = 1.67 years). Restricting the region over which APD was calculated to - further improved accuracy (ROC-AUC = 0.85, R = 0.54, mean absolute error = 1.38 years) Genetic diversity in HCV correlates with TSI and is a proxy for infection recency and TSI, even several years post-infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v12111241DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7692400PMC
October 2020

Heritability of the HIV-1 reservoir size and decay under long-term suppressive ART.

Nat Commun 2020 11 2;11(1):5542. Epub 2020 Nov 2.

Department of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

The HIV-1 reservoir is the major hurdle to curing HIV-1. However, the impact of the viral genome on the HIV-1 reservoir, i.e. its heritability, remains unknown. We investigate the heritability of the HIV-1 reservoir size and its long-term decay by analyzing the distribution of those traits on viral phylogenies from both partial-pol and viral near full-length genome sequences. We use a unique nationwide cohort of 610 well-characterized HIV-1 subtype-B infected individuals on suppressive ART for a median of 5.4 years. We find that a moderate but significant fraction of the HIV-1 reservoir size 1.5 years after the initiation of ART is explained by genetic factors. At the same time, we find more tentative evidence for the heritability of the long-term HIV-1 reservoir decay. Our findings indicate that viral genetic factors contribute to the HIV-1 reservoir size and hence the infecting HIV-1 strain may affect individual patients' hurdle towards a cure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19198-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7608612PMC
November 2020

Host Genomics of the HIV-1 Reservoir Size and Its Decay Rate During Suppressive Antiretroviral Treatment.

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 2020 12;85(4):517-524

School of Life Sciences, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.

Background: The primary hurdle for the eradication of HIV-1 is the establishment of a latent viral reservoir early after primary infection. Here, we investigated the potential influence of human genetic variation on the HIV-1 reservoir size and its decay rate during suppressive antiretroviral treatment.

Setting: Genome-wide association study and exome sequencing study to look for host genetic determinants of HIV-1 reservoir measurements in patients enrolled in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study, a nation-wide prospective observational study.

Methods: We measured total HIV-1 DNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from study participants, as a proxy for the reservoir size at 3 time points over a median of 5.4 years, and searched for associations between human genetic variation and 2 phenotypic readouts: the reservoir size at the first time point and its decay rate over the study period. We assessed the contribution of common genetic variants using genome-wide genotyping data from 797 patients with European ancestry enrolled in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study and searched for a potential impact of rare variants and exonic copy number variants using exome sequencing data generated in a subset of 194 study participants.

Results: Genome-wide and exome-wide analyses did not reveal any significant association with the size of the HIV-1 reservoir or its decay rate on suppressive antiretroviral treatment.

Conclusions: Our results point to a limited influence of human genetics on the size of the HIV-1 reservoir and its long-term dynamics in successfully treated individuals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/QAI.0000000000002473DOI Listing
December 2020

Predictors of Virological Failure and Time to Viral Suppression of First-Line Integrase Inhibitor-Based Antiretroviral Treatment.

Clin Infect Dis 2021 10;73(7):e2134-e2141

Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Background: Integrase strand transfer inhibitors (InSTIs) are recommended for first-line treatment of persons with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). We identified risk factors, including baseline minor InSTI resistance mutations, for treatment failure of InSTI-based regimens.

Methods: We studied time-to-treatment failure and time to viral suppression among 1419 drug-naive patients in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study. We performed Cox regression models adjusted for demographic factors, baseline HIV RNA/CD4 cell counts, AIDS-defining events, and the type of InSTI. In 646 patients with a baseline genotypic resistance test of the integrase, we studied the impact of minor integrase resistance mutations.

Results: We observed 121 virological failures during 18 447 person-years of follow-up. A baseline viral load ≥100 000 copies/mL (multivariable hazard ratio [mHR], 2.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.3-3.6) and an AIDS-defining event (mHR, 1.8; 95% CI. 1.1-3.0) were associated with treatment failure. CD4 counts between 200 and 500 cells/µL (mHR, 0.5; 95% CI, .3-.8) and >500 cells/µL (mHR, 0.4; 95% CI, .2-.7) were protective. Time to suppression was shorter in lower viral load strata (mHR, 0.7; 95% CI, .6-.8) and in dolutegravir-based therapy (mHR, 1.2; 95% CI, 1.0-1.4). Minor resistance mutations were found at baseline in 104 of 646 (16%) patients with no effect on treatment outcome.

Conclusions: Factors associated with treatment failure on InSTI-based first-line regimen remained similar to those of older treatments, in particular high viral load and low CD4 counts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa1614DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8492202PMC
October 2021

Validation and clinical evaluation of a SARS-CoV-2 surrogate virus neutralisation test (sVNT).

Emerg Microbes Infect 2020 Dec;9(1):2394-2403

Centre for Infectious Disease Control, WHO COVID-19 reference laboratory, RIVM, Bilthoven, Netherlands.

To understand SARS-CoV-2 immunity after natural infection or vaccination, functional assays such as virus neutralising assays are needed. So far, assays to detect SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibodies rely on cell-culture based infection assays either using wild type SARS-CoV-2 or pseudotyped viruses. Such assays are labour-intensive, require appropriate biosafety facilities and are difficult to standardize. Recently, a new surrogate virus neutralisation test (sVNT) was described that uses the principle of an ELISA to measure the neutralisation capacity of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies directed against the receptor binding domain. Here, we performed an independent evaluation of the robustness, specificity and sensitivity on an extensive panel of sera from 269 PCR-confirmed COVID-19 cases and 259 unmatched samples collected before 2020 and compared it to cell-based neutralisation assays. We found a high specificity of 99.2 (95%CI: 96.9-99.9) and overall sensitivity of 80.3 (95%CI: 74.9-84.8) for the sVNT. Clinical sensitivity increased between early (<14 days post symptom onset or post diagnosis, dpos/dpd) and late sera (>14 dpos/dpd) from 75.0 (64.7-83.2) to 83.1 (76.5-88.1). Also, higher severity was associated with an increase in clinical sensitivity. Upon comparison with cell-based neutralisation assays we determined an analytical sensitivity of 74.3 (56.4-86.9) and 98.2 (89.4-99.9) for titres ≥10 to <40 and ≥40 to <160, respectively. Only samples with a titre ≥160 were always positive in the sVNT. In conclusion, the sVNT can be used as an additional assay to determine the immune status of COVID-19 infected of vaccinated individuals but its value needs to be assessed for each specific context.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/22221751.2020.1835448DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7605318PMC
December 2020

Identification of immunodominant linear epitopes from SARS-CoV-2 patient plasma.

PLoS One 2020 9;15(9):e0238089. Epub 2020 Sep 9.

Department of Organic Chemistry, NCCR Chemical Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.

A novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is the source of a current pandemic (COVID-19) with devastating consequences in public health and economic stability. Using a peptide array to map the antibody response of plasma from healing patients (12) and heathy patients (6), we identified three immunodominant linear epitopes, two of which correspond to key proteolytic sites on the spike protein (S1/S2 and S2') known to be critical for cellular entry. We show biochemical evidence that plasma positive for the epitope adjacent to the S1/S2 cleavage site inhibits furin-mediated proteolysis of spike.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0238089PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7480855PMC
September 2020

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Viral Load in the Upper Respiratory Tract of Children and Adults With Early Acute Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Clin Infect Dis 2021 07;73(1):148-150

Laboratory of Virology, Division of Laboratory Medicine, Geneva University Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland.

The factors that contribute to transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) by children are unclear. We analyzed viral load at the time of diagnosis in 53 children and 352 adults with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the first 5 days post symptom onset. No significant differences in SARS-CoV-2 RNA loads were seen between children and adults.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa1157DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7454380PMC
July 2021

Head-to-Head Accuracy Comparison of Three Commercial COVID-19 IgM/IgG Serology Rapid Tests.

J Clin Med 2020 Jul 24;9(8). Epub 2020 Jul 24.

Division of Laboratory Medicine, Department of Diagnostics, Geneva University Hospitals and Geneva University, 1205 Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: Comparative data of SARS-CoV-2 IgM/IgG serology rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) is scarce. We thus performed a head-to-head comparison of three RDTs.

Methods: In this unmatched case-control study, blood samples from 41 RT-PCR-confirmed COVID-19 cases and 50 negative controls were studied. The diagnostic accuracy of three commercially available COVID-19 RDTs: NTBIO (RDT-A), Orient-Gene (RDT-B), and MEDsan (RDT-C), against both a recombinant spike-expressing immunofluorescence assay (rIFA) and Euroimmun IgG ELISA, was assessed. RDT results concordant with the reference methods, and between whole blood and plasma, were established by the Kendall coefficient.

Results: COVID-19 cases' median time from RT-PCR to serology was 22 days (interquartile range (IQR) 13-31 days). Whole-blood IgG detection with RDT-A, -B, and -C showed 0.93, 0.83, and 0.98 concordance with rIFA. Against rIFA, RDT-A sensitivity (SN) was 92% (95% CI: 78-98) and specificity (SP) 100% (95% CI: 91-100), RDT-B showed 87% SN (95% CI: 72-95) and 98% SP (95% CI: 88-100), and RDT-C 100% SN (95% CI: 88-100) and 98% SP (95% CI: 88-100). Against ELISA, SN and SP were above 90% for all three RDTs.

Conclusions: RDT-A and RDT-C displayed IgG detection SN and SP above 90% in whole blood. These RDTs could be considered in the absence of routine diagnostic serology facilities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm9082369DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7463984PMC
July 2020

Diagnostic accuracy of Augurix COVID-19 IgG serology rapid test.

Eur J Clin Invest 2020 Oct 11;50(10):e13357. Epub 2020 Aug 11.

Division of Laboratory Medicine, Department of Diagnostics, Geneva University Hospitals and Geneva University, Geneva, Switzerland.

Aims: To validate the diagnostic accuracy of the Augurix SARS-CoV-2 IgM/IgG rapid immunoassay diagnostic test (RDT) for COVID-19.

Methods: In this unmatched 1:1 case-control study, blood samples from 46 real-time RT-PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 hospitalized cases and 45 healthy donors (negative controls) were studied. Diagnostic accuracy of the IgG RDT was assessed against both an in-house recombinant spike-expressing immunofluorescence assay (rIFA), as an established reference method (primary endpoint), and the Euroimmun SARS-CoV-2 IgG enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) (secondary endpoint).

Results: COVID-19 patients were more likely to be male (61% vs 20%; P = .0001) and older (median 66 vs 47 years old; P < .001) than controls. Whole blood IgG-RDT results showed 86% and 93% overall Kendall concordance with rIFA and IgG ELISA, respectively. IgG RDT performances were similar between plasma and whole blood. Overall, RDT sensitivity was 88% (95% confidence interval [95%CI]: 70-96), specificity 98% (95%CI: 90-100), PPV 97% (95%CI: 80-100) and NPV 94% (95%CI: 84-98). The IgG-RDT carried out from 0 to 6 days, 7 to 14 days and > 14 days after the SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test displayed 30%, 73% and 100% positivity rates in the COVID-19 group, respectively. When considering samples taken >14 days after RT-PCR diagnosis, NPV was 100% (95%CI:90-100), and PPV was 100% (95%CI:72-100).

Conclusions: The Augurix IgG-RDT done in whole blood displays a high diagnostic accuracy for SARS-CoV-2 IgG in high COVID-19 prevalence settings, where its use could be considered in the absence of routine diagnostic serology facilities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/eci.13357DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7404380PMC
October 2020

Seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies in Geneva, Switzerland (SEROCoV-POP): a population-based study.

Lancet 2020 08 11;396(10247):313-319. Epub 2020 Jun 11.

Division of Primary Care, Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland; Department of Health and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: Assessing the burden of COVID-19 on the basis of medically attended case numbers is suboptimal given its reliance on testing strategy, changing case definitions, and disease presentation. Population-based serosurveys measuring anti-severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (anti-SARS-CoV-2) antibodies provide one method for estimating infection rates and monitoring the progression of the epidemic. Here, we estimate weekly seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the population of Geneva, Switzerland, during the epidemic.

Methods: The SEROCoV-POP study is a population-based study of former participants of the Bus Santé study and their household members. We planned a series of 12 consecutive weekly serosurveys among randomly selected participants from a previous population-representative survey, and their household members aged 5 years and older. We tested each participant for anti-SARS-CoV-2-IgG antibodies using a commercially available ELISA. We estimated seroprevalence using a Bayesian logistic regression model taking into account test performance and adjusting for the age and sex of Geneva's population. Here we present results from the first 5 weeks of the study.

Findings: Between April 6 and May 9, 2020, we enrolled 2766 participants from 1339 households, with a demographic distribution similar to that of the canton of Geneva. In the first week, we estimated a seroprevalence of 4·8% (95% CI 2·4-8·0, n=341). The estimate increased to 8·5% (5·9-11·4, n=469) in the second week, to 10·9% (7·9-14·4, n=577) in the third week, 6·6% (4·3-9·4, n=604) in the fourth week, and 10·8% (8·2-13·9, n=775) in the fifth week. Individuals aged 5-9 years (relative risk [RR] 0·32 [95% CI 0·11-0·63]) and those older than 65 years (RR 0·50 [0·28-0·78]) had a significantly lower risk of being seropositive than those aged 20-49 years. After accounting for the time to seroconversion, we estimated that for every reported confirmed case, there were 11·6 infections in the community.

Interpretation: These results suggest that most of the population of Geneva remained uninfected during this wave of the pandemic, despite the high prevalence of COVID-19 in the region (5000 reported clinical cases over <2·5 months in the population of half a million people). Assuming that the presence of IgG antibodies is associated with immunity, these results highlight that the epidemic is far from coming to an end by means of fewer susceptible people in the population. Further, a significantly lower seroprevalence was observed for children aged 5-9 years and adults older than 65 years, compared with those aged 10-64 years. These results will inform countries considering the easing of restrictions aimed at curbing transmission.

Funding: Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, Swiss School of Public Health (Corona Immunitas research program), Fondation de Bienfaisance du Groupe Pictet, Fondation Ancrage, Fondation Privée des Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève, and Center for Emerging Viral Diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31304-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7289564PMC
August 2020

Resistance-associated substitutions in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus genotype 4 infection.

J Viral Hepat 2020 10 26;27(10):974-986. Epub 2020 Jun 26.

Department of Internal 1, University Hospital, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany.

Data on the prevalence of resistance-associated substitutions (RASs) and their implications for treatment with direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) are sparse in European patients with HCV genotype 4. This study investigated RASs before and after DAA failure in different genotype 4 subtypes and evaluated retreatment efficacies. Samples of 195 genotype 4-infected patients were collected in the European Resistance Database and investigated for NS3, NS5A and NS5B RASs. Retreatment efficacies in DAA failure patients were analysed retrospectively. After NS5A inhibitor (NS5Ai) failure, subtype 4r was frequent (30%) compared to DAA-naïve patients (5%) and the number of NS5A RASs was significantly higher in subtype 4r compared to 4a or 4d (median three RASs vs no or one RAS, respectively, P < .0001). RASsL28V, L30R and M31L pre-existed in subtype 4r and were maintained after NS5Ai failure. Typical subtype 4r RASs were located in subdomain 1a of NS5A, close to membrane interaction and protein-protein interaction sites that are responsible for multimerization and hence viral replication. Retreatment of 37 DAA failure patients was highly effective with 100% SVR in prior SOF/RBV, PI/SOF and PI/NS5Ai failures. Secondary virologic failures were rare (n = 2; subtype 4d and 4r) and only observed in prior NS5Ai/SOF failures (SVR 90%). In conclusion, subtype 4r harboured considerably more RASs compared to other subtypes. A resistance-tailored retreatment using first- and second-generation DAAs was highly effective with SVR rates ≥90% across all subtypes and first-line treatment regimens.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jvh.13322DOI Listing
October 2020

Phylogenetic Cluster Analysis Identifies Virological and Behavioral Drivers of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission in Men Who Have Sex With Men.

Clin Infect Dis 2021 06;72(12):2175-2183

Department of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Background: Identifying local outbreaks and their drivers is a key step toward curbing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission and potentially achieving HIV elimination. Such outbreaks can be identified as transmission clusters extracted from phylogenetic trees constructed of densely sampled viral sequences. In this study, we combined phylogenetic transmission clusters with extensive data on virological suppression and behavioral risk of cluster members to quantify the drivers of ongoing transmission over 10 years.

Methods: Using the comprehensive Swiss HIV Cohort Study and its drug-resistance database, we reconstructed phylogenetic trees for each year between 2007 and 2017. We identified HIV transmission clusters dominated by men who have sex with men (MSM) and determined their annual growth. We used Poisson regression to assess if cluster growth was associated with a per-cluster infectivity and behavioral risk score.

Results: Both infectivity and behavioral risk scores were significantly higher in growing MSM transmission clusters compared to nongrowing clusters (P ≤ .01). The fraction of transmission clusters without infectious members acquiring new infections increased significantly over the study period. The infectivity score was significantly associated with per-capita incidence of MSM transmission clusters in 8 years, while the behavioral risk score was significantly associated with per-capita incidence of MSM transmission clusters in 3 years.

Conclusions: We present a phylogenetic method to identify hotspots of ongoing transmission among MSM. Our results demonstrate the effectiveness of treatment as prevention at the population level. However, the significantly increasing number of new infections among transmission clusters without infectious members highlights a relative shift from diagnosed to undiagnosed individuals as drivers of HIV transmission in Swiss MSM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa411DOI Listing
June 2021

Differences in social and mental well-being of long-term survivors among people who inject drugs and other participants in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study: 1980-2018.

Antivir Ther 2020 ;25(1):43-54

Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Background: People living with HIV who were diagnosed before highly active antiretroviral therapy became available in 1996 and who survived at least 15 years after HIV diagnosis, termed long-term survivors (LTS), form a particularly vulnerable population. We study social, clinical and mental factors of LTS in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study, with a particular focus on people who inject drugs (PWID).

Methods: We quantified differences between PWID LTS, and men who have sex with men (MSM) and heterosexual (HET) LTS. Using phylogenetic methods, we distinguished between heterosexual LTS who most likely shared a social network with PWID at the time of infection, termed clusteredHET, and those who did not, termed HET not clustered (HETnc). The analysis was performed using data collected at least 15 years post diagnosis.

Results: Overall, 1,663 of 5,686 (29.2%) PWID were LTS. We found significant differences between PWID LTS and MSM/HETnc LTS regarding self-reported depression (59.4% versus 43.3%; odds ratio [OR]=1.8; P<0.001), incarceration (30.6% versus 7.0%; OR=6.9; P<0.001) and full work ability (25.4% versus 59.0%; OR=0.27; P<0.001). ClusteredHET were less vulnerable with respect to these variables than PWID LTS but more at risk compared with MSM/HETnc LTS, indicating that clusteredHET are closer to PWID with regard to social and mental aspects compared with all MSM/HETnc.

Conclusions: Even more than 15 years post HIV diagnosis, special care for HIV-positive PWID is needed, with emphasis on mental health and social integration of PWID LTS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3851/IMP3347DOI Listing
September 2021

The Role of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Asymptomatic Status When Starting Antiretroviral Therapy on Adherence and Treatment Outcomes and Implications for Test and Treat: The Swiss HIV Cohort Study.

Clin Infect Dis 2021 04;72(8):1413-1421

Department of Infectious Diseases, Bern University Hospital, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.

Background: Since the advent of universal test-and-treat , more people living with human immunodeficiency virus (PLHIV) initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) are asymptomatic with a preserved immune system. We explored the impact of asymptomatic status on adherence and clinical outcomes.

Methods: PLHIV registered in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study (SHCS) between 2003 and 2018 were included. We defined asymptomatic as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stage A within 30 days of starting ART, non-adherence as any self-reported missed doses and viral failure as two consecutive viral load>50 copies/mL after >24 weeks on ART. Using logistic regression models, we measured variables associated with asymptomatic status and adherence and Cox proportional hazard models to assess association between symptom status and viral failure.

Results: Of 7131 PLHIV, 76% started ART when asymptomatic and 1478 (22%) experienced viral failure after a median of 1.9 years (interquartile range, 1.1-4.2). In multivariable models, asymptomatic PLHIV were more likely to be younger, men who have sex with men, better educated, have unprotected sex, have a HIV-positive partner, have a lower viral load, and have started ART more recently. Asymptomatic status was not associated with nonadherence (odds ratio, 1.03 [95% confidence interval {CI}, .93-1.15]). Asymptomatic PLHIV were at a decreased risk of viral failure (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.87 [95% CI, .76-1.00]) and less likely to develop resistance (14% vs 27%, P < .001) than symptomatic PLHIV.

Conclusions: Despite concerns regarding lack of readiness, our study found no evidence of adherence issues or worse clinical outcomes in asymptomatic PLHIV starting ART.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa239DOI Listing
April 2021
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