Coronavirus (COVID-19) Collection
Emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern Omicron (B.1.1.529) - highlights Africa's research capabilities, but exposes major knowledge gaps, inequities of vaccine distribution, inadequacies in global COVID-19 response and control effortsNearly two years since the start of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, which has caused over 5 million deaths, the world continues to be on high COVID-19 alert. The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with national authorities, public health institutions and scientists have been closely monitoring and assessing the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 since January 2020 (WHO 2021a; WHO 2021b). The emergence of specific SARS-CoV-2 variants were characterised as Variant of Interest (VOI) and Variant of Concern (VOC), to prioritise global monitoring and research, and to inform the ongoing global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO and its international sequencing networks continuously monitor SARS-CoV-2 mutations and inform countries about any changes that may be needed to respond to the variant, and prevent its spread where feasible.
Re-infection with a different SARS-CoV-2 clade and prolonged viral shedding in a hematopoietic stem cell transplantation patientThe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread worldwide (WHO 2020). Understanding severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) shedding, transmission dynamics, and re-infection with different SARS-CoV-2 clades in immunocompromised persons is an important clinical and public health challenge (Choi et al., 2020).
COVID-19 and Sudden Unexpected Community Deaths in Lusaka, Zambia, Africa - A Medico-Legal Whole-Body Autopsy Case SeriesAs of June 30th, 2021, the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has resulted in 180 million COVID-19 cases (with 3.9 million deaths) reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Of these, 5.4 million cases with 141,000 deaths have been reported from Africa (WHO Afro 2021). Currently, 150,000 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in Zambia, with 2,100 deaths (WHO COVID-19 dashboard – Zambia 2021).
Post-mortem examination of Hospital Inpatient COVID-19 Deaths in Lusaka, Zambia - A Descriptive Whole-body Autopsy SeriesThe SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has caused 171,292,827 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 3,687,589 deaths globally as of June 4th, 2021. Of these 3,530,845 cases occurred in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) with 131,630 deaths (WHO Coronavirus dashboard, 2021; Africa CDC - Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), 2021). Zambia reported its first COVID-19 case in March 2020 and has since recorded 96, 563 cases with 1,284 deaths as of June 4th, 202 (World Health Organisation, 2021). Eighteen months after the first COVID-19 cases were reported from Wuhan, China, several major knowledge gaps on COVID-19 pathology and pathogenesis remain, particularly in SSA.
The unbalanced p53/SIRT1 axis may impact lymphocyte homeostasis in COVID-19 patientsIn patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, excessive inflammatory responses are considered to play a major role in the pathogenesis of severe coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) disease, leading to acute respiratory distress syndrome and multiple-organ failure (Moore and June, 2020). Dysregulated inflammatory profile, defective immune responses and lymphopenia have also been identified as important features of severe disease (Del Valle et al., 2020; Bordoni et al., 2020).
First COVID-19 case in Zambia — Comparative phylogenomic analyses of SARS-CoV-2 detected in African countriesThe WHO declared COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2, a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 30 January 2020 and later a pandemic on 11 March 2020 (WHO, 2020a). As of 28 September 2020, there were 32.7 million COVID-19 cases with 991,000 deaths worldwide reported to the WHO (2020b). All African countries have been affected and have reported a total of 1,172,342 COVID-19 cases, including 25,481 deaths (WHO, 2020b). As the global COVID-19 events unfolded, and Africa’s first COVID-19 case was reported from Egypt on 14 February 2020, many African countries prepared for the arrival of COVID-19 (Kapata et al., 2020).
Advancing COVID-19 vaccines – avoiding different regulatory standards for different vaccines and need for open and transparent data sharingThe erratic ways by which the global scientific R&D, pharma and technology community conducted themselves during epidemics such as SARS-CoV-1, Ebola virus, MERS-CoV and others, the lack of co-operation and missed opportunities for filling important knowledge gaps and having an enhancing and multiplier effect, led to the establishment of the WHO R&D Blueprint and global strategy and preparedness plan (WHO, 2020a). The Blueprint leverages the successes and addresses the gaps in order for the world to be prepared for the next pandemic(s).
COVID-19 and the scaled-down 2020 Hajj Pilgrimage—Decisive, logical and prudent decision making by Saudi authorities overcomes pre-Hajj public health concernsThe abrupt appearance of SARS-CoV-2 as a novel lethal zoonotic pathogen causing COVID-19 disease in humans in late December 2019 (WHO, 2020), and its explosive global spread (Hui et al., 2020) caught health authorities worldwide by surprise and exposed the ill-preparedness of global public health systems to deal with the appearance of a new pathogen. Apart from generic prevention and control issues of public health and lockdown measures to limit epidemic spread, specific issues of Mass Gathering sporting and religious events came under specific spotlight (Alzahrani et al., 2020; Memish et al., 2020; Baloch et al., 2020; McCloskey et al., 2020; Petersen et al., 2020b).
Mortality in COVID-19 disease patients: Correlating the association of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) with severe acute respiratory syndrome 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variantsGenetic factors such as the HLA type of patients may play a role in regard to disease severity and clinical outcome of patients with COVID-19. Taking the data deposited in the GISAID database, we made predictions using the IEDB analysis resource (TepiTool) to gauge how variants in the SARS-CoV-2 genome may change peptide binding to the most frequent MHC-class I and -II alleles in Africa, Asia and Europe. We caracterized how a single mutation in the wildtype sequence of of SARS-CoV-2 could influence the peptide binding of SARS-CoV-2 variants to MHC class II, but not to MHC class I alleles.
Reducing mortality and morbidity in patients with severe COVID-19 disease by advancing ongoing trials of Mesenchymal Stromal (stem) Cell (MSC) therapy — Achieving global consensus and visibility for cellular host-directed therapiesAs of May 17th 2020, the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused 307,395 deaths worldwide, out of 3,917,366 cases reported to the World Health Organization. No specific treatments for reducing mortality or morbidity are yet available. Deaths from COVID-19 will continue to rise globally until effective and appropriate treatments and/or vaccines are found. In search of effective treatments, the global medical, scientific, pharma and funding communities have rapidly initiated over 500 COVID-19 clinical trials on a range of antiviral drug regimens and repurposed drugs in various combinations.
COVID-19 and malaria: A symptom screening challenge for malaria endemic countriesThe unprecedented global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has rapidly spread to all continents (WHO, 2020a). Whilst spread to Africa has been slow, there are now increasing numbers of COVID-19 being reported from African countries who are preparing themselves (Kapata et al., 2020) for an exponential rise in numbers of cases. As of 26th April 2020, there have been 2,804,796 confirmed COVIDD-19 cases reported to the WHO with 193,710 deaths. In Africa there have been 20,316 cases with 839 deaths reported from 49 countries (WHO, 2020b).
COVID-19 travel restrictions and the International Health Regulations – Call for an open debate on easing of travel restrictionsThe COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has made national governments worldwide to mandate several generic infection control measures such as physical distancing, self-isolation, and closure of non-essential shops, restaurants schools, among others. Some models suggest physical distancing would have to persist for 3 months to mitigate the peak effects on health systems and could be required on an intermittent basis for 12 to 18 months (Flaxman et al., 2020).
Is Africa prepared for tackling the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) epidemic. Lessons from past outbreaks, ongoing pan-African public health efforts, and implications for the futureSoon after the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 (2019-nCoV), was first identified in a cluster of patients with pneumonia (Li et al., 2020), in the Chinese city of Wuhan on 31 December 2019, rapid human to human transmission was anticipated (Hui et al., 2020). The fast pace of transmission is wreaking havoc and stirring media hype and public health concern (Ippolito et al., 2020) globally. When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the disease, (now officially named COVID-19) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 31st January 2020 (WHO, 2020a), the Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus justified the decision by stating that WHOs greatest concern was the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems.
2019-novel Coronavirus severe adult respiratory distress syndrome in two cases in Italy: An uncommon radiological presentationOn December 31, 2019, aggregate cases of an apparently new respiratory syndrome were reported in the city of Wuhan, China by Chinese national health authorities to the World Health Organization (WHO) (Huang et al., 2020; Organization WH, 2020a). As of 13h February 2020, there have been 45 171 cases reported to the World Health Organization with 1104 deaths (Organization WH, 2020a). Outside China there have been 441 confirmed cases reported from 24 countries (Organization WH, 2020a; Organization WH, 2020b).
The continuing 2019-nCoV epidemic threat of novel coronaviruses to global health — The latest 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, ChinaThe city of Wuhan in China is the focus of global attention due to an outbreak of a febrile respiratory illness due to a coronavirus 2019-nCoV. In December 2019, there was an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan, Hubei province in China, with an epidemiological link to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market where there was also sale of live animals. Notification of the WHO on 31 Dec 2019 by the Chinese Health Authorities has prompted health authorities in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan to step up border surveillance, and generated concern and fears that it could mark the emergence of a novel and serious threat to public health (WHO, 2020a; Parr, 2020).