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1.
Viruses ; 14(10)2022 10 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2081913

ABSTRACT

An adequate SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance strategy has proven to be essential for countries to obtain a thorough understanding of the variants and lineages being imported and successfully established within their borders. During 2020, genomic surveillance in Belgium was not structurally implemented but performed by individual research laboratories that had to acquire the necessary funds themselves to perform this important task. At the start of 2021, a nationwide genomic surveillance consortium was established in Belgium to markedly increase the country's genomic sequencing efforts (both in terms of intensity and representativeness), to perform quality control among participating laboratories, and to enable coordination and collaboration of research projects and publications. We here discuss the genomic surveillance efforts in Belgium before and after the establishment of its genomic sequencing consortium, provide an overview of the specifics of the consortium, and explore more details regarding the scientific studies that have been published as a result of the increased number of Belgian SARS-CoV-2 genomes that have become available.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Humans , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Genome, Viral , Genomics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
2.
Nature ; 610(7930): 154-160, 2022 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1991629

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Delta (Pango lineage B.1.617.2) variant of concern spread globally, causing resurgences of COVID-19 worldwide1,2. The emergence of the Delta variant in the UK occurred on the background of a heterogeneous landscape of immunity and relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions. Here we analyse 52,992 SARS-CoV-2 genomes from England together with 93,649 genomes from the rest of the world to reconstruct the emergence of Delta and quantify its introduction to and regional dissemination across England in the context of changing travel and social restrictions. Using analysis of human movement, contact tracing and virus genomic data, we find that the geographic focus of the expansion of Delta shifted from India to a more global pattern in early May 2021. In England, Delta lineages were introduced more than 1,000 times and spread nationally as non-pharmaceutical interventions were relaxed. We find that hotel quarantine for travellers reduced onward transmission from importations; however, the transmission chains that later dominated the Delta wave in England were seeded before travel restrictions were introduced. Increasing inter-regional travel within England drove the nationwide dissemination of Delta, with some cities receiving more than 2,000 observable lineage introductions from elsewhere. Subsequently, increased levels of local population mixing-and not the number of importations-were associated with the faster relative spread of Delta. The invasion dynamics of Delta depended on spatial heterogeneity in contact patterns, and our findings will inform optimal spatial interventions to reduce the transmission of current and future variants of concern, such as Omicron (Pango lineage B.1.1.529).


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Cities/epidemiology , Contact Tracing , England/epidemiology , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , Quarantine/legislation & jurisprudence , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Travel/legislation & jurisprudence
3.
Viruses ; 14(6)2022 06 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1911639

ABSTRACT

The national vaccination campaign against SARS-CoV-2 started in January 2021 in Belgium. In the present study, we aimed to use national hospitalisation surveillance data to investigate the recent evolution of vaccine impact on the risk of COVID-19 hospitalisation. We analysed aggregated data from 27,608 COVID-19 patients hospitalised between October 2021 and February 2022, stratified by age category and vaccination status. For each period, vaccination status, and age group, we estimated risk ratios (RR) corresponding to the ratio between the probability of being hospitalised following SARS-CoV-2 infection if belonging to the vaccinated population and the same probability if belonging to the unvaccinated population. In October 2021, a relatively high RR was estimated for vaccinated people > 75 years old, possibly reflecting waning immunity within this group, which was vaccinated early in 2021 and invited to receive the booster vaccination at that time. In January 2022, a RR increase was observed in all age categories coinciding with the dominance of the Omicron variant. Despite the absence of control for factors like comorbidities, previous infections, or time since the last administered vaccine, we showed that such real-time aggregated data make it possible to approximate trends in vaccine impact over time.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19 , Aged , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Hospitalization , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccination
4.
Viruses ; 14(6)2022 06 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1911635

ABSTRACT

Healthcare workers (HCWs) are known to be at higher risk of developing severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections although whether these risks are equal across all occupational roles is uncertain. Identifying these risk factors and understand SARS-CoV-2 transmission pathways in healthcare settings are of high importance to achieve optimal protection measures. We aimed to investigate the implementation of a voluntary screening program for SARS-CoV-2 infections among hospital HCWs and to elucidate potential transmission pathways though phylogenetic analysis before the vaccination era. HCWs of the University Hospital of Liège, Belgium, were invited to participate in voluntary reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays performed every week from April to December 2020. Phylogenetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genomes were performed for a subgroup of 45 HCWs. 5095 samples were collected from 703 HCWs. 212 test results were positive, 15 were indeterminate, and 4868 returned negative. 156 HCWs (22.2%) tested positive at least once during the study period. All SARS-CoV-2 test results returned negative for 547 HCWs (77.8%). Nurses (p < 0.05), paramedics (p < 0.05), and laboratory staff handling respiratory samples (p < 0.01) were at higher risk for being infected compared to the control non-patient facing group. Our phylogenetic analysis revealed that most positive samples corresponded to independent introduction events into the hospital. Our findings add to the growing evidence of differential risks of being infected among HCWs and support the need to implement appropriate protection measures based on each individual's risk profile to guarantee the protection of both HCWs and patients. Furthermore, our phylogenetic investigations highlight that most positive samples correspond to distinct introduction events into the hospital.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , Delivery of Health Care , Health Personnel , Hospitals, University , Humans , Personnel, Hospital , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
5.
Elife ; 112022 06 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1893302

ABSTRACT

Background: Detailed understanding of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) regional transmission networks within sub-Saharan Africa is key for guiding local public health interventions against the pandemic. Methods: Here, we analysed 1139 SARS-CoV-2 genomes from positive samples collected between March 2020 and February 2021 across six counties of Coastal Kenya (Mombasa, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Kwale, Tana River, and Lamu) to infer virus introductions and local transmission patterns during the first two waves of infections. Virus importations were inferred using ancestral state reconstruction, and virus dispersal between counties was estimated using discrete phylogeographic analysis. Results: During Wave 1, 23 distinct Pango lineages were detected across the six counties, while during Wave 2, 29 lineages were detected; 9 of which occurred in both waves and 4 seemed to be Kenya specific (B.1.530, B.1.549, B.1.596.1, and N.8). Most of the sequenced infections belonged to lineage B.1 (n = 723, 63%), which predominated in both Wave 1 (73%, followed by lineages N.8 [6%] and B.1.1 [6%]) and Wave 2 (56%, followed by lineages B.1.549 [21%] and B.1.530 [5%]). Over the study period, we estimated 280 SARS-CoV-2 virus importations into Coastal Kenya. Mombasa City, a vital tourist and commercial centre for the region, was a major route for virus imports, most of which occurred during Wave 1, when many Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) government restrictions were still in force. In Wave 2, inter-county transmission predominated, resulting in the emergence of local transmission chains and diversity. Conclusions: Our analysis supports moving COVID-19 control strategies in the region from a focus on international travel to strategies that will reduce local transmission. Funding: This work was funded by The Wellcome (grant numbers: 220985, 203077/Z/16/Z, 220977/Z/20/Z, and 222574/Z/21/Z) and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), project references: 17/63/and 16/136/33 using UK Aid from the UK government to support global health research, The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the funding agencies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Genomics , Humans , Kenya/epidemiology , Phylogeny , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
6.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-337749

ABSTRACT

The emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant of concern (lineage B.1.617.2) in late 2020 resulted in a new wave of infections in many countries across the world, where it often became the dominant lineage in a relatively short amount of time. We here report on a novel genomic surveillance effort in Rwanda in the time period from June to September 2021, leading to 201 SARS-CoV-2 genomes being generated, the majority of which were identified as the Delta variant of concern. We show that in Rwanda, the Delta variant almost completely replaced the previously dominant A.23.1 and B.1.351 (Beta) lineages in a matter of weeks, and led to a tripling of the total number of COVID-19 infections and COVID-19-related fatalities over the course of only three months. We estimate that Delta in Rwanda had an average growth rate advantage of 0.034 (95% CI 0.025-0.045) per day over A.23.1, and of 0.022 (95% CI 0.012-0.032) over B.1.351. Phylogenetic analysis reveals the presence of at least seven local Delta transmission clusters, with two of these clusters occurring close to the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and another cluster close to the border with Tanzania. A smaller Delta cluster of infections also appeared close to the border with Uganda, illustrating the importance of monitoring cross-border traffic to limit the spread between Rwanda and its neighboring countries. We discuss our findings against a background of increased vaccination efforts in Rwanda, and also discuss a number of breakthrough infections identified during our study. Concluding, our study has added an important collection of data to the available genomes for the Eastern Africa region, with the number of Delta infections close to the border with neighboring countries highlighting the need to further strengthen genomic surveillance in the region to obtain a better understanding of the impact of border crossings on lowering the epidemic curve in Rwanda.

7.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-331342

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 vaccination has resulted in excellent protection against fatal disease, including in the elderly. However, risk factors for post-vaccination fatal COVID-19 are largely unknown. We comprehensively studied three large nursing home outbreaks (20-35% fatal cases) by combining SARS-CoV-2 aerosol monitoring, whole-genome phylogenetic analysis, and immunovirological profiling by digital nCounter transcriptomics. Phylogenetic investigations indicated each outbreak stemmed from a single introduction event, though with different variants (Delta, Gamma, and Mu). SARS-CoV-2 was detected in aerosol samples up to 52 days after the initial infection. Combining demographic, immune and viral parameters, the best predictive models for mortality comprised IFNB1 or age, viral ORF7a and ACE2 receptor transcripts. Comparison with published pre-vaccine fatal COVID-19 signatures and reanalysis of single-cell RNAseq data highlights the unique immune signature in post-vaccine fatal COVID-19 outbreaks. A multi-layered strategy including environmental sampling, immunomonitoring, and early antiviral therapy should be considered to prevent post-vaccination COVID-19 mortality in nursing homes.

8.
Nature ; 602(7898): 671-675, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1616994

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant was first identified in November 2021 in Botswana and South Africa1-3. It has since spread to many countries and is expected to rapidly become dominant worldwide. The lineage is characterized by the presence of around 32 mutations in spike-located mostly in the N-terminal domain and the receptor-binding domain-that may enhance viral fitness and enable antibody evasion. Here we isolated an infectious Omicron virus in Belgium from a traveller returning from Egypt. We examined its sensitivity to nine monoclonal antibodies that have been clinically approved or are in development4, and to antibodies present in 115 serum samples from COVID-19 vaccine recipients or individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. Omicron was completely or partially resistant to neutralization by all monoclonal antibodies tested. Sera from recipients of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine, sampled five months after complete vaccination, barely inhibited Omicron. Sera from COVID-19-convalescent patients collected 6 or 12 months after symptoms displayed low or no neutralizing activity against Omicron. Administration of a booster Pfizer dose as well as vaccination of previously infected individuals generated an anti-Omicron neutralizing response, with titres 6-fold to 23-fold lower against Omicron compared with those against Delta. Thus, Omicron escapes most therapeutic monoclonal antibodies and, to a large extent, vaccine-elicited antibodies. However, Omicron is neutralized by antibodies generated by a booster vaccine dose.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Immune Evasion/immunology , Immunization, Secondary , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , /immunology , Belgium , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/transmission , /immunology , Convalescence , Female , Humans , Male , Mutation , Neutralization Tests , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Travel
9.
Mol Biol Evol ; 39(2)2022 02 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1594013

ABSTRACT

The ongoing SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)-CoV (coronavirus)-2 pandemic has exposed major gaps in our knowledge on the origin, ecology, evolution, and spread of animal coronaviruses. Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) is a member of the genus Alphacoronavirus in the family Coronaviridae that may have originated from bats and leads to significant hazards and widespread epidemics in the swine population. The role of local and global trade of live swine and swine-related products in disseminating PEDV remains unclear, especially in developing countries with complex swine production systems. Here, we undertake an in-depth phylogeographic analysis of PEDV sequence data (including 247 newly sequenced samples) and employ an extension of this inference framework that enables formally testing the contribution of a range of predictor variables to the geographic spread of PEDV. Within China, the provinces of Guangdong and Henan were identified as primary hubs for the spread of PEDV, for which we estimate live swine trade to play a very important role. On a global scale, the United States and China maintain the highest number of PEDV lineages. We estimate that, after an initial introduction out of China, the United States acted as an important source of PEDV introductions into Japan, Korea, China, and Mexico. Live swine trade also explains the dispersal of PEDV on a global scale. Given the increasingly global trade of live swine, our findings have important implications for designing prevention and containment measures to combat a wide range of livestock coronaviruses.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus , Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus , Swine Diseases , Animals , China , Pandemics , Phylogeny , Phylogeography , Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus/genetics , Swine , Swine Diseases/epidemiology , United States
10.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-296907

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant was first identified in November 2021 in Botswana and South Africa. It has in the meantime spread to many countries and is expected to rapidly become dominant worldwide. The lineage is characterized by the presence of about 32 mutations in the Spike, located mostly in the N-terminal domain (NTD) and the receptor binding domain (RBD), which may enhance viral fitness and allow antibody evasion. Here, we isolated an infectious Omicron virus in Belgium, from a traveller returning from Egypt. We examined its sensitivity to 9 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) clinically approved or in development, and to antibodies present in 90 sera from COVID-19 vaccine recipients or convalescent individuals. Omicron was totally or partially resistant to neutralization by all mAbs tested. Sera from Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine recipients, sampled 5 months after complete vaccination, barely inhibited Omicron. Sera from COVID-19 convalescent patients collected 6 or 12 months post symptoms displayed low or no neutralizing activity against Omicron. Administration of a booster Pfizer dose as well as vaccination of previously infected individuals generated an anti-Omicron neutralizing response, with titers 5 to 31 fold lower against Omicron than against Delta. Thus, Omicron escapes most therapeutic monoclonal antibodies and to a large extent vaccine-elicited antibodies.

11.
Front Med (Lausanne) ; 8: 743988, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1523722

ABSTRACT

Introduction: We assessed the usefulness of SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR cycle thresholds (Ct) values trends produced by the LHUB-ULB (a consolidated microbiology laboratory located in Brussels, Belgium) for monitoring the epidemic's dynamics at local and national levels and for improving forecasting models. Methods: SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Ct values produced from April 1, 2020, to May 15, 2021, were compared with national COVID-19 confirmed cases notifications according to their geographical and time distribution. These Ct values were evaluated against both a phase diagram predicting the number of COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care and an age-structured model estimating COVID-19 prevalence in Belgium. Results: Over 155,811 RT-PCR performed, 12,799 were positive and 7,910 Ct values were available for analysis. The 14-day median Ct values were negatively correlated with the 14-day mean daily positive tests with a lag of 17 days. In addition, the 14-day mean daily positive tests in LHUB-ULB were strongly correlated with the 14-day mean confirmed cases in the Brussels-Capital and in Belgium with coinciding start, peak, and end of the different waves of the epidemic. Ct values decreased concurrently with the forecasted phase-shifts of the diagram. Similarly, the evolution of 14-day median Ct values was negatively correlated with daily estimated prevalence for all age-classes. Conclusion: We provide preliminary evidence that trends of Ct values can help to both follow and predict the epidemic's trajectory at local and national levels, underlining that consolidated microbiology laboratories can act as epidemic sensors as they gather data that are representative of the geographical area they serve.

12.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 5705, 2021 09 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1442779

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 transmission rates are often linked to locally circulating strains of SARS-CoV-2. Here we describe 203 SARS-CoV-2 whole genome sequences analyzed from strains circulating in Rwanda from May 2020 to February 2021. In particular, we report a shift in variant distribution towards the emerging sub-lineage A.23.1 that is currently dominating. Furthermore, we report the detection of the first Rwandan cases of the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants of concern among incoming travelers tested at Kigali International Airport. To assess the importance of viral introductions from neighboring countries and local transmission, we exploit available individual travel history metadata to inform spatio-temporal phylogeographic inference, enabling us to take into account infections from unsampled locations. We uncover an important role of neighboring countries in seeding introductions into Rwanda, including those from which no genomic sequences were available. Our results highlight the importance of systematic genomic surveillance and regional collaborations for a durable response towards combating COVID-19.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Genome, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Travel-Related Illness , Adult , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , Epidemiological Monitoring , Female , Humans , Male , Phylogeny , Phylogeography , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA, Viral/isolation & purification , Rwanda/epidemiology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Whole Genome Sequencing
13.
Sci Rep ; 11(1): 18580, 2021 09 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1428900

ABSTRACT

At the end of 2020, several new variants of SARS-CoV-2-designated variants of concern-were detected and quickly suspected to be associated with a higher transmissibility and possible escape of vaccine-induced immunity. In Belgium, this discovery has motivated the initiation of a more ambitious genomic surveillance program, which is drastically increasing the number of SARS-CoV-2 genomes to analyse for monitoring the circulation of viral lineages and variants of concern. In order to efficiently analyse the massive collection of genomic data that are the result of such increased sequencing efforts, streamlined analytical strategies are crucial. In this study, we illustrate how to efficiently map the spatio-temporal dispersal of target mutations at a regional level. As a proof of concept, we focus on the Belgian province of Liège that has been consistently sampled throughout 2020, but was also one of the main epicenters of the second European epidemic wave. Specifically, we employ a recently developed phylogeographic workflow to infer the regional dispersal history of viral lineages associated with three specific mutations on the spike protein (S98F, A222V and S477N) and to quantify their relative importance through time. Our analytical pipeline enables analysing large data sets and has the potential to be quickly applied and updated to track target mutations in space and time throughout the course of an epidemic.


Subject(s)
Genome, Viral , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Belgium , Epidemiological Monitoring , Humans
14.
Science ; 373(6557): 889-895, 2021 08 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1322770

ABSTRACT

Understanding the causes and consequences of the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants of concern is crucial to pandemic control yet difficult to achieve because they arise in the context of variable human behavior and immunity. We investigated the spatial invasion dynamics of lineage B.1.1.7 by jointly analyzing UK human mobility, virus genomes, and community-based polymerase chain reaction data. We identified a multistage spatial invasion process in which early B.1.1.7 growth rates were associated with mobility and asymmetric lineage export from a dominant source location, enhancing the effects of B.1.1.7's increased intrinsic transmissibility. We further explored how B.1.1.7 spread was shaped by nonpharmaceutical interventions and spatial variation in previous attack rates. Our findings show that careful accounting of the behavioral and epidemiological context within which variants of concern emerge is necessary to interpret correctly their observed relative growth rates.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing , Communicable Disease Control , Genome, Viral , Humans , Incidence , Phylogeography , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Spatio-Temporal Analysis , Travel , United Kingdom/epidemiology
15.
Viruses ; 13(7)2021 07 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1314760

ABSTRACT

More than a year after the first identification of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) as the causative agent of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in China, the emergence and spread of genomic variants of this virus through travel raise concerns regarding the introduction of lineages in previously unaffected regions, requiring adequate containment strategies. Concomitantly, such introductions fuel worries about a possible increase in transmissibility and disease severity, as well as a possible decrease in vaccine efficacy. Military personnel are frequently deployed on missions around the world. As part of a COVID-19 risk mitigation strategy, Belgian Armed Forces that engaged in missions and operations abroad were screened (7683 RT-qPCR tests), pre- and post-mission, for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, including the identification of viral lineages. Nine distinct viral genotypes were identified in soldiers returning from operations in Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, and Mali. The SARS-CoV-2 variants belonged to major clades 19B, 20A, and 20B (Nextstrain nomenclature), and included "variant of interest" B.1.525, "variant under monitoring" A.27, as well as lineages B.1.214, B.1, B.1.1.254, and A (pangolin nomenclature), some of which are internationally monitored due to the specific mutations they harbor. Through contact tracing and phylogenetic analysis, we show that isolation and testing policies implemented by the Belgian military command appear to have been successful in containing the influx and transmission of these distinct SARS-CoV-2 variants into military and civilian populations.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Military Personnel , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Afghanistan/epidemiology , Belgium , COVID-19/epidemiology , China/epidemiology , Democratic Republic of the Congo/epidemiology , Genome, Viral , Genomics , Humans , Mali/epidemiology , Molecular Epidemiology , Mutation , Niger/epidemiology , Phylogeny , Travel , Whole Genome Sequencing
16.
Nature ; 595(7869): 713-717, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1287812

ABSTRACT

After the first wave of SARS-CoV-2 infections in spring 2020, Europe experienced a resurgence of the virus starting in late summer 2020 that was deadlier and more difficult to contain1. Relaxed intervention measures and summer travel have been implicated as drivers of the second wave2. Here we build a phylogeographical model to evaluate how newly introduced lineages, as opposed to the rekindling of persistent lineages, contributed to the resurgence of COVID-19 in Europe. We inform this model using genomic, mobility and epidemiological data from 10 European countries and estimate that in many countries more than half of the lineages circulating in late summer resulted from new introductions since 15 June 2020. The success in onward transmission of newly introduced lineages was negatively associated with the local incidence of COVID-19 during this period. The pervasive spread of variants in summer 2020 highlights the threat of viral dissemination when restrictions are lifted, and this needs to be carefully considered in strategies to control the current spread of variants that are more transmissible and/or evade immunity. Our findings indicate that more effective and coordinated measures are required to contain the spread through cross-border travel even as vaccination is reducing disease burden.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Europe/epidemiology , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , Incidence , Locomotion , Phylogeny , Phylogeography , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Time Factors , Travel/statistics & numerical data
17.
Int J Health Geogr ; 20(1): 29, 2021 06 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1269880

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting nations globally, but with an impact exhibiting significant spatial and temporal variation at the sub-national level. Identifying and disentangling the drivers of resulting hospitalisation incidence at the local scale is key to predict, mitigate and manage epidemic surges, but also to develop targeted measures. However, this type of analysis is often not possible because of the lack of spatially-explicit health data and spatial uncertainties associated with infection. METHODS: To overcome these limitations, we propose an analytical framework to investigate potential drivers of the spatio-temporal heterogeneity in COVID-19 hospitalisation incidence when data are only available at the hospital level. Specifically, the approach is based on the delimitation of hospital catchment areas, which allows analysing associations between hospitalisation incidence and spatial or temporal covariates. We illustrate and apply our analytical framework to Belgium, a country heavily impacted by two COVID-19 epidemic waves in 2020, both in terms of mortality and hospitalisation incidence. RESULTS: Our spatial analyses reveal an association between the hospitalisation incidence and the local density of nursing home residents, which confirms the important impact of COVID-19 in elderly communities of Belgium. Our temporal analyses further indicate a pronounced seasonality in hospitalisation incidence associated with the seasonality of weather variables. Taking advantage of these associations, we discuss the feasibility of predictive models based on machine learning to predict future hospitalisation incidence. CONCLUSION: Our reproducible analytical workflow allows performing spatially-explicit analyses of data aggregated at the hospital level and can be used to explore potential drivers and dynamic of COVID-19 hospitalisation incidence at regional or national scales.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Aged , Belgium/epidemiology , Hospitals , Humans , Incidence , SARS-CoV-2 , Spatio-Temporal Analysis
18.
PLoS Pathog ; 17(5): e1009571, 2021 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1236598

ABSTRACT

During the first phase of the COVID-19 epidemic, New York City rapidly became the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. While molecular phylogenetic analyses have previously highlighted multiple introductions and a period of cryptic community transmission within New York City, little is known about the circulation of SARS-CoV-2 within and among its boroughs. We here perform phylogeographic investigations to gain insights into the circulation of viral lineages during the first months of the New York City outbreak. Our analyses describe the dispersal dynamics of viral lineages at the state and city levels, illustrating that peripheral samples likely correspond to distinct dispersal events originating from the main metropolitan city areas. In line with the high prevalence recorded in this area, our results highlight the relatively important role of the borough of Queens as a transmission hub associated with higher local circulation and dispersal of viral lineages toward the surrounding boroughs.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , New York City/epidemiology , Phylogeny , Phylogeography , Prevalence , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification
19.
Cell ; 184(10): 2595-2604.e13, 2021 05 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1163482

ABSTRACT

The emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.7, first detected in the United Kingdom, has become a global public health concern because of its increased transmissibility. Over 2,500 COVID-19 cases associated with this variant have been detected in the United States (US) since December 2020, but the extent of establishment is relatively unknown. Using travel, genomic, and diagnostic data, we highlight that the primary ports of entry for B.1.1.7 in the US were in New York, California, and Florida. Furthermore, we found evidence for many independent B.1.1.7 establishments starting in early December 2020, followed by interstate spread by the end of the month. Finally, we project that B.1.1.7 will be the dominant lineage in many states by mid- to late March. Thus, genomic surveillance for B.1.1.7 and other variants urgently needs to be enhanced to better inform the public health response.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Testing , COVID-19 , Models, Biological , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/mortality , COVID-19/transmission , Female , Humans , Male , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , United States/epidemiology
20.
Emerg Microbes Infect ; 10(1): 51-65, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1066197

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and declared by the World Health Organization a global public health emergency. Among the severe outbreaks across South America, Uruguay has become known for curtailing SARS-CoV-2 exceptionally well. To understand the SARS-CoV-2 introductions, local transmissions, and associations with genomic and clinical parameters in Uruguay, we sequenced the viral genomes of 44 outpatients and inpatients in a private healthcare system in its capital, Montevideo, from March to May 2020. We performed a phylogeographic analysis using sequences from our cohort and other studies that indicate a minimum of 23 independent introductions into Uruguay, resulting in five major transmission clusters. Our data suggest that most introductions resulting in chains of transmission originate from other South American countries, with the earliest seeding of the virus in late February 2020, weeks before the borders were closed to all non-citizens and a partial lockdown implemented. Genetic analyses suggest a dominance of S and G clades (G, GH, GR) that make up >90% of the viral strains in our study. In our cohort, lethal outcome of SARS-CoV-2 infection significantly correlated with arterial hypertension, kidney failure, and ICU admission (FDR < 0.01), but not with any mutation in a structural or non-structural protein, such as the spike D614G mutation. Our study contributes genetic, phylodynamic, and clinical correlation data about the exceptionally well-curbed SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in Uruguay, which furthers the understanding of disease patterns and regional aspects of the pandemic in Latin America.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/complications , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Disease Outbreaks , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Phylogeny , Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Uruguay/epidemiology , Young Adult
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