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Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21266251


The SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern (VOC) Delta was first detected in India in October 2020. The first imported cases of the Delta variant in Brazil were identified in April 2021 in the Southern region, followed by more cases in different country regions during the following months. By early September 2021, Delta was already the dominant variant in the Southeastern (87%), Southern (73%), and Northeastern (52%) Brazilian regions. This work aimed to understand the spatiotemporal dissemination dynamics of Delta in Brazil. To this end, we employed a combination of Maximum Likelihood (ML) and Bayesian methods to reconstruct the evolutionary relationship of 2,264 of VOC Delta complete genomes (482 from this study) recovered across 21 out of 27 Brazilian federal units. Our phylogeographic analyses identified three major transmission clusters of Delta in Brazil. The clade BR-I (n = 1,560) arose in Rio de Janeiro in late April 2021 and was the major cluster behind the dissemination of the VOC Delta in the Southeastern, Northeastern, Northern, and Central-Western regions. The clade BR-II (n = 207) arose in the Parana state in late April 2021 and aggregated the largest fraction of sampled genomes from the Southern region. Lastly, the clade BR-III emerged in the Sao Paulo state in early June 2021 and remained mostly restricted to this state. In the rapid turnover of viral variants characteristic of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Brazilian regions seem to occupy different stages of an increasing prevalence of the VOC Delta in their epidemic profiles. This process demands continuous genomic and epidemiological surveillance toward identifying and mitigating new introductions, limiting their dissemination, and preventing the establishment of more significant outbreaks in a population already heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.