• The importance of genomic analysis in cracking the coronavirus pandemic

      Zella, Davide; Giovanetti, Marta; Cella, Eleonora; Borsetti, Alessandra; Ciotti, Marco; Ceccarelli, Giancarlo; D'Ettorre, Gabriella; Pezzuto, Aldo; Tambone, Vittoradolfo; Campanozzi, Laura; et al. (Taylor and Francis Inc., 2021-04-28)
      Introduction: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has pushed the scientific community to undertake intense research efforts. Understanding SARS-CoV-2 biology is necessary to discover therapeutic or preventive strategies capable of containing the pandemic. Knowledge of the structural characteristics of the virus genome and proteins is essential to find targets for therapies and immunological interventions.Areas covered: This review covers different areas of expertise, genomic analysis of circulating strains, structural biology, viral mutations, molecular diagnostics, disease, and vaccines. In particular, the review is focused on the molecular approaches and modern clinical strategies used in these fields.Expert opinion: Molecular approaches to SARS-CoV-2 pandemic have been critical to shorten time for new diagnostic, therapeutic and prevention strategies. In this perspective, the entire scientific community is moving in the same direction. Vaccines, together with the development of new drugs to treat the disease, represent the most important strategy to protect human from viral disease and prevent further spread. In this regard, new molecular technologies have been successfully implemented. The use of a novel strategy of communication is suggested for a better diffusion to the broader public of new data and results.
    • SARS-CoV-2 shifting transmission dynamics and hidden reservoirs potentially limit efficacy of public health interventions in Italy

      Giovanetti, Marta; Cella, Eleonora; Benedetti, Francesca; Rife Magalis, Brittany; Fonseca, Vagner; Fabris, Silvia; Campisi, Giovanni; Ciccozzi, Alessandra; Angeletti, Silvia; Borsetti, Alessandra; et al. (Springer Nature, 2021-04-21)
      We investigated SARS-CoV-2 transmission dynamics in Italy, one of the countries hit hardest by the pandemic, using phylodynamic analysis of viral genetic and epidemiological data. We observed the co-circulation of multiple SARS-CoV-2 lineages over time, which were linked to multiple importations and characterized by large transmission clusters concomitant with a high number of infections. Subsequent implementation of a three-phase nationwide lockdown strategy greatly reduced infection numbers and hospitalizations. Yet we present evidence of sustained viral spread among sporadic clusters acting as "hidden reservoirs" during summer 2020. Mathematical modelling shows that increased mobility among residents eventually catalyzed the coalescence of such clusters, thus driving up the number of infections and initiating a new epidemic wave. Our results suggest that the efficacy of public health interventions is, ultimately, limited by the size and structure of epidemic reservoirs, which may warrant prioritization during vaccine deployment.