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      Retrospective Post-mortem SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR of Autopsies with COVID-19-Suggestive Pathology Supports the Absence of Lethal Community Spread in Basel, Switzerland, before February 2020

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          Abstract

          Introduction

          Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has rapidly spread around the world. While the first case was recorded in Hubei in December 2019, the extent of early community spread in Central Europe before this period is unknown. A high proportion of asymptomatic cases and undocumented infections, high transmissibility, and phylogenetic genomic diversity have engendered the controversial possibility of early international community spread of SARS-CoV-2 before its emergence in China.

          Methods

          To assess the early presence of lethal COVID-19 in Switzerland, we retrospectively performed an analysis of deaths at University Hospital Basel between October 2019 and February 2020 ( n = 310), comparing the incidence of clinical causes of death with March 2020 ( n = 72), the month during which the first lethal COVID-19 cases in Basel were reported. Trends of COVID-19-suggestive sequelae, such as bronchopneumonia with organization, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), or pulmonary embolisms (PE) were evaluated. In cases where autopsy was performed ( n = 71), analogous analyses were conducted on the cause of death and pulmonary histological findings. Eight cases with a COVID-19-suggestive clinical history and histopathology between October 2019 and February 2020, and 3 cases before October 2019, were selected for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR.

          Results

          A statistically significant rise in pulmonary causes of death was observed in March 2020 ( p = 0.03), consistent with the reported emergence of lethal COVID-19 in Switzerland. A rise in lethal bronchopneumonia was observed between December 2019 and January 2020, which was likely seasonal. The incidence of lethal ARDS and PE was uniformly low between October 2019 and February 2020. All autopsy cases analyzed by means of SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR yielded negative results.

          Conclusion

          Our data suggest the absence of early lethal community spread of COVID-19 in Basel before its initial reported emergence in Switzerland in March 2020.

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          Most cited references65

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          Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China

          Summary Background A recent cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, was caused by a novel betacoronavirus, the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). We report the epidemiological, clinical, laboratory, and radiological characteristics and treatment and clinical outcomes of these patients. Methods All patients with suspected 2019-nCoV were admitted to a designated hospital in Wuhan. We prospectively collected and analysed data on patients with laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV infection by real-time RT-PCR and next-generation sequencing. Data were obtained with standardised data collection forms shared by WHO and the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium from electronic medical records. Researchers also directly communicated with patients or their families to ascertain epidemiological and symptom data. Outcomes were also compared between patients who had been admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and those who had not. Findings By Jan 2, 2020, 41 admitted hospital patients had been identified as having laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV infection. Most of the infected patients were men (30 [73%] of 41); less than half had underlying diseases (13 [32%]), including diabetes (eight [20%]), hypertension (six [15%]), and cardiovascular disease (six [15%]). Median age was 49·0 years (IQR 41·0–58·0). 27 (66%) of 41 patients had been exposed to Huanan seafood market. One family cluster was found. Common symptoms at onset of illness were fever (40 [98%] of 41 patients), cough (31 [76%]), and myalgia or fatigue (18 [44%]); less common symptoms were sputum production (11 [28%] of 39), headache (three [8%] of 38), haemoptysis (two [5%] of 39), and diarrhoea (one [3%] of 38). Dyspnoea developed in 22 (55%) of 40 patients (median time from illness onset to dyspnoea 8·0 days [IQR 5·0–13·0]). 26 (63%) of 41 patients had lymphopenia. All 41 patients had pneumonia with abnormal findings on chest CT. Complications included acute respiratory distress syndrome (12 [29%]), RNAaemia (six [15%]), acute cardiac injury (five [12%]) and secondary infection (four [10%]). 13 (32%) patients were admitted to an ICU and six (15%) died. Compared with non-ICU patients, ICU patients had higher plasma levels of IL2, IL7, IL10, GSCF, IP10, MCP1, MIP1A, and TNFα. Interpretation The 2019-nCoV infection caused clusters of severe respiratory illness similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus and was associated with ICU admission and high mortality. Major gaps in our knowledge of the origin, epidemiology, duration of human transmission, and clinical spectrum of disease need fulfilment by future studies. Funding Ministry of Science and Technology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, National Natural Science Foundation of China, and Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission.
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            Clinical Characteristics of 138 Hospitalized Patients With 2019 Novel Coronavirus–Infected Pneumonia in Wuhan, China

            In December 2019, novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)-infected pneumonia (NCIP) occurred in Wuhan, China. The number of cases has increased rapidly but information on the clinical characteristics of affected patients is limited.
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              SARS-CoV-2 Cell Entry Depends on ACE2 and TMPRSS2 and Is Blocked by a Clinically Proven Protease Inhibitor

              Summary The recent emergence of the novel, pathogenic SARS-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in China and its rapid national and international spread pose a global health emergency. Cell entry of coronaviruses depends on binding of the viral spike (S) proteins to cellular receptors and on S protein priming by host cell proteases. Unravelling which cellular factors are used by SARS-CoV-2 for entry might provide insights into viral transmission and reveal therapeutic targets. Here, we demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 uses the SARS-CoV receptor ACE2 for entry and the serine protease TMPRSS2 for S protein priming. A TMPRSS2 inhibitor approved for clinical use blocked entry and might constitute a treatment option. Finally, we show that the sera from convalescent SARS patients cross-neutralized SARS-2-S-driven entry. Our results reveal important commonalities between SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV infection and identify a potential target for antiviral intervention.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Pathobiology
                Pathobiology
                PAT
                Pathobiology
                S. Karger AG (Allschwilerstrasse 10, P.O. Box · Postfach · Case postale, CH–4009, Basel, Switzerland · Schweiz · Suisse, Phone: +41 61 306 11 11, Fax: +41 61 306 12 34, karger@karger.com )
                1015-2008
                1423-0291
                6 November 2020
                : 1-11
                Affiliations
                [1] aPathology, Institute of Medical Genetics and Pathology, University Hospital Basel, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
                [2] bDepartment of Clinical Research, University Hospital Basel, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
                Author notes
                *Alexandar Tzankov, Institute of Medical Genetics and Pathology, University Hospital Basel, Schönbeinstrasse 40, CH–4031 Basel (Switzerland), alexandar.tzankov@ 123456usb.ch
                Article
                pat-0001
                10.1159/000512563
                7705940
                33161409
                c487c8ba-645b-4263-b4a8-34e51af15782
                Copyright © 2020 by S. Karger AG, Basel

                This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC). Usage and distribution for commercial purposes requires written permission. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                History
                : 2 July 2020
                : 30 September 2020
                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 3, References: 70, Pages: 11
                Categories
                Research Article

                autopsy,infectious pathology,covid-19,sars-cov-2,diffuse alveolar damage

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