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1.
medrxiv; 2023.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2023.01.02.23284109

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) arise against the backdrop of increasingly heterogeneous human connectivity and population immunity. Through a large-scale phylodynamic analysis of 115,622 Omicron genomes, we identified >6,000 independent introductions of the antigenically distinct virus into England and reconstructed the dispersal history of resulting local transmission. Travel restrictions on southern Africa did not reduce BA.1 importation intensity as secondary hubs became major exporters. We explored potential drivers of BA.1 spread across England and discovered an early period during which viral lineage movements mainly occurred between larger cities, followed by a multi-focal spatial expansion shaped by shorter distance mobility patterns. We also found evidence that disease incidence impacted human commuting behaviours around major travel hubs. Our results offer a detailed characterisation of processes that drive the invasion of an emerging VOC across multiple spatial scales and provide unique insights on the interplay between disease spread and human mobility.

2.
biorxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.02.24.481848

ABSTRACT

We identified a novel Betacoronavirus from bank voles (Myodes glareolus) in Grimso, Sweden. Repeated detection over three years and an overall prevalence of 3.4% suggests the virus commonly occurs in bank voles. Furthermore, phylogenetic analyses indicate the virus belongs to a highly divergent Embecovirus lineage predominantly associated with bank voles.

3.
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.12.14.21267606

ABSTRACT

The Delta variant of concern of SARS-CoV-2 has spread globally causing large outbreaks and resurgences of COVID-19 cases. The emergence of Delta in the UK occurred on the background of a heterogeneous landscape of immunity and relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions. Here we analyse 52,992 Delta genomes from England in combination with 93,649 global genomes 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. Through analysis of human movement, contact tracing, and virus genomic data, we find that the focus of geographic expansion of Delta shifted from India to a more global pattern in early May 2021. In England, Delta lineages were introduced >1,000 times and spread nationally as non-pharmaceutical interventions were relaxed. We find that hotel quarantine for travellers from India reduced onward transmission from importations; however the transmission chains that later dominated the Delta wave in England had been already seeded before restrictions were introduced. In England, increasing inter- regional travel drove Delta's nationwide dissemination, with some cities receiving >2,000 observable lineage introductions from other regions. Subsequently, increased levels of local population mixing, not the number of importations, was associated with faster relative growth of Delta. Among US states, we find that regions that previously experienced large waves also had faster Delta growth rates, and a model including interactions between immunity and human behaviour could accurately predict the rise of Delta there. Delta's invasion dynamics depended on fine scale spatial heterogeneity in immunity and contact patterns and our findings will inform optimal spatial interventions to reduce transmission of current and future VOCs such as Omicron.

4.
researchsquare; 2021.
Preprint in English | PREPRINT-RESEARCHSQUARE | ID: ppzbmed-10.21203.rs.3.rs-1159614.v1

ABSTRACT

The Delta variant of concern of SARS-CoV-2 has spread globally causing large outbreaks and resurgences of COVID-19 cases. The emergence of Delta in the UK occurred on the background of a heterogeneous landscape of immunity and relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions. Here we analyse 52,992 Delta genomes from England in combination with 93,649 global genomes 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. Through analysis of human movement, contact tracing, and virus genomic data, we find that the focus of geographic expansion of Delta shifted from India to a more global pattern in early May 2021. In England, Delta lineages were introduced >1,000 times and spread nationally as non-pharmaceutical interventions were relaxed. We find that hotel quarantine for travellers from India reduced onward transmission from importations; however the transmission chains that later dominated the Delta wave in England had been already seeded before restrictions were introduced. In England, increasing inter-regional travel drove Delta's nationwide dissemination, with some cities receiving >2,000 observable lineage introductions from other regions. Subsequently, increased levels of local population mixing, not the number of importations, was associated with faster relative growth of Delta. Among US states, we find that regions that previously experienced large waves also had faster Delta growth rates, and a model including interactions between immunity and human behaviour could accurately predict the rise of Delta there. Delta’s invasion dynamics depended on fine scale spatial heterogeneity in immunity and contact patterns and our findings will inform optimal spatial interventions to reduce transmission of current and future VOCs such as Omicron.

5.
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.08.31.21262680

ABSTRACT

Genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 has played a decisive role in understanding the transmission and evolution of the virus during its emergence and continued circulation. However, limited genomic sampling in many high-incidence countries has impeded detailed studies of SARS-CoV-2 genomic epidemiology. Consequently, critical questions remain about the generation and global distribution of virus genetic diversity. To address this gap, we investigated SARS-CoV-2 transmission dynamics in Gujarat, India, during its first epidemic wave and shed light on virus spread in one of the pandemics hardest-hit regions. By integrating regional case data and 434 whole virus genome sequences sampled across 20 districts from March to July 2020, we reconstructed the epidemic dynamics and spatial spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Gujarat, India. Our findings revealed that global and regional connectivity, along with population density, were significant drivers of the Gujarat SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. The three most populous districts in Gujarat accounted [~]84% of total cases during the first wave. Moreover, we detected over 100 virus lineage introductions, which were primarily associated with international travel. Within Gujarat, virus dissemination occurred predominantly from densely populated regions to geographically proximate locations with low-population density. Our findings suggest SARS-CoV-2 transmission follows a gravity model in India, with urban centres contributing disproportionately to onward virus spread.

6.
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.07.27.21261148

ABSTRACT

High throughput sequencing enables rapid genome sequencing during infectious disease outbreaks and provides an opportunity to quantify the evolutionary dynamics of pathogens in near real-time. One difficulty of undertaking evolutionary analyses over short timescales is the dependency of the inferred evolutionary parameters on the timespan of observation. Here, we characterise the molecular evolutionary dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 and 2009 pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) influenza during the first 12 months of their respective pandemics. We use Bayesian phylogenetic methods to estimate the dates of emergence, evolutionary rates, and growth rates of SARS-CoV-2 and pH1N1 over time and investigate how varying sampling window and dataset sizes affects the accuracy of parameter estimation. We further use a generalised McDonald-Kreitman test to estimate the number of segregating non-neutral sites over time. We find that the inferred evolutionary parameters for both pandemics are time-dependent, and that the inferred rates of SARS-CoV-2 and pH1N1 decline by ~50% and ~100%, respectively, over the course of one year. After at least 4 months since the start of sequence sampling, inferred growth rates and emergence dates remain relatively stable and can be inferred reliably using a logistic growth coalescent model. We show that the time-dependency of the mean substitution rate is due to elevated substitution rates at terminal branches which are 2-4 times higher than those of internal branches for both viruses. The elevated rate at terminal branches is strongly correlated with an increasing number of segregating non-neutral sites, demonstrating the role of purifying selection in generating the time-dependency of evolutionary parameters during pandemics.

7.
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.10.23.20218446

ABSTRACT

The UK's COVID-19 epidemic during early 2020 was one of world's largest and unusually well represented by virus genomic sampling. Here we reveal the fine-scale genetic lineage structure of this epidemic through analysis of 50,887 SARS-CoV-2 genomes, including 26,181 from the UK sampled throughout the country's first wave of infection. Using large-scale phylogenetic analyses, combined with epidemiological and travel data, we quantify the size, spatio-temporal origins and persistence of genetically-distinct UK transmission lineages. Rapid fluctuations in virus importation rates resulted in >1000 lineages; those introduced prior to national lockdown were larger and more dispersed. Lineage importation and regional lineage diversity declined after lockdown, whilst lineage elimination was size-dependent. We discuss the implications of our genetic perspective on transmission dynamics for COVID-19 epidemiology and control.

8.
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.04.01.20047076

ABSTRACT

Highlights: 1) 1.6 million molecular diagnostic tests identified 1,388 SARS-CoV-2 infections in Guangdong Province, China, by 19th March 2020; 2) Virus genomes can be recovered using a variety of sequencing approaches from a range of patient samples. 3) Genomic analyses reveal multiple virus importations into Guangdong Province, resulting in genetically distinct clusters that require careful interpretation. 4) Large-scale epidemiological surveillance and intervention measures were effective in interrupting community transmission in Guangdong Summary: COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and was first reported in central China in December 2019. Extensive molecular surveillance in Guangdong, China's most populous province, during early 2020 resulted in 1,388 reported RNA positive cases from 1.6 million tests. In order to understand the molecular epidemiology and genetic diversity of SARS-CoV-2 in China we generated 53 genomes from infected individuals in Guangdong using a combination of metagenomic sequencing and tiling amplicon approaches. Combined epidemiological and phylogenetic analyses indicate multiple independent introductions to Guangdong, although phylogenetic clustering is uncertain due to low virus genetic variation early in the pandemic. Our results illustrate how the timing, size and duration of putative local transmission chains were constrained by national travel restrictions and by the province's large-scale intensive surveillance and intervention measures. Despite these successes, COVID-19 surveillance in Guangdong is still required as the number of cases imported from other countries is increasing.

9.
biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.02.20.957472

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses (CoVs) are zoonotic pathogens with high fatality rates and pandemic potential. Vaccine development has focussed on the principal target of the neutralizing humoral immune response, the spike (S) glycoprotein, which mediates receptor recognition and membrane fusion. Coronavirus S proteins are extensively glycosylated viral fusion proteins, encoding around 69-87 N-linked glycosylation sites per trimeric spike. Using a multifaceted structural approach, we reveal a specific area of high glycan density on MERS S that results in the formation of under-processed oligomannose-type glycan clusters, which was absent on SARS and HKU1 CoVs. We provide a comparison of the global glycan density of coronavirus spikes with other viral proteins including HIV-1 envelope, Lassa virus glycoprotein complex, and influenza hemagglutinin, where glycosylation plays a known role in shielding immunogenic epitopes. Consistent with the ability of the antibody-mediated immune response to effectively target and neutralize coronaviruses, we demonstrate that the glycans of coronavirus spikes are not able to form an efficacious high-density global shield to thwart the humoral immune response. Overall, our data reveal how differential organisation of viral glycosylation across class I viral fusion proteins influence not only individual glycan compositions but also the immunological pressure across the viral protein surface.

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