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1.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 4784, 2022 Aug 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1991598

ABSTRACT

Regional connectivity and land travel have been identified as important drivers of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. However, the generalizability of this finding is understudied outside of well-sampled, highly connected regions. In this study, we investigated the relative contributions of regional and intercontinental connectivity to the source-sink dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 for Jordan and the Middle East. By integrating genomic, epidemiological and travel data we show that the source of introductions into Jordan was dynamic across 2020, shifting from intercontinental seeding in the early pandemic to more regional seeding for the travel restrictions period. We show that land travel, particularly freight transport, drove introduction risk during the travel restrictions period. High regional connectivity and land travel also drove Jordan's export risk. Our findings emphasize regional connectedness and land travel as drivers of transmission in the Middle East.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Middle East/epidemiology , Pandemics/prevention & control , Travel
2.
Science ; : eabp8337, 2022 Jul 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1962060

ABSTRACT

Understanding the circumstances that lead to pandemics is important for their prevention. Here, we analyze the genomic diversity of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) early in the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We show that SARS-CoV-2 genomic diversity before February 2020 likely comprised only two distinct viral lineages, denoted A and B. Phylodynamic rooting methods, coupled with epidemic simulations, reveal that these lineages were the result of at least two separate cross-species transmission events into humans. The first zoonotic transmission likely involved lineage B viruses around 18 November 2019 (23 October-8 December), while the separate introduction of lineage A likely occurred within weeks of this event. These findings indicate that it is unlikely that SARS-CoV-2 circulated widely in humans prior to November 2019 and define the narrow window between when SARS-CoV-2 first jumped into humans and when the first cases of COVID-19 were reported. As with other coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 emergence likely resulted from multiple zoonotic events.

3.
J Infect Dis ; 2022 Jun 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1908839

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Monitoring the emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants is an important public health objective. We investigated how the Gamma variant was established in New York City (NYC) in early 2021 in the presence of travel restrictions that aimed to prevent viral spread from Brazil, the country where the variant was first identified. METHODS: We performed phylogeographic analysis on 15,967 Gamma sequences sampled between March 10th through May 1st, 2021, to identify geographic sources of Gamma lineages introduced into NYC. We identified locally circulating Gamma transmission clusters and inferred the timing of their establishment in NYC. RESULTS: We identified 16 phylogenetically-distinct Gamma clusters established in NYC (cluster sizes ranged 2-108 genomes); most of them were introduced from Florida and Illinois and only one directly from Brazil. By the time the first Gamma case was reported by genomic surveillance in NYC on March 10th, the majority (57%) of circulating Gamma lineages had already been established in the city for at least two weeks. CONCLUSIONS: Although travel from Brazil to the US was restricted from May 2020 through the end of the study period, this restriction did not prevent Gamma from becoming established in NYC as most introductions occurred from domestic locations.

4.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-337023

ABSTRACT

Background: Genomic surveillance is essential for monitoring the emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants. SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing is the starting point for SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequencing. However, testing rates in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are low (mean = 27 tests/100,000 people/day) and global testing rates are falling in the post-crisis phase of the pandemic, leading to spatiotemporal biases in sample collection. Various public health agencies and academic groups have produced recommendations on sample sizes and sequencing strategies for effective genomic surveillance. However, these recommendations assume very high volumes of diagnostic testing that are currently well beyond reach in most LMICs. Methods To investigate how testing rates, sequencing strategies and the degree of spatiotemporal bias in sample collection impact variant detection and monitoring outcomes, we used an individual-based model to simulate COVID-19 epidemics in a prototypical LMIC. Within the model, we simulated a range of testing rates, accounted for likely testing demand and applied various genomic surveillance strategies, including sentinel surveillance. Findings Diagnostic testing rates play a substantially larger role in monitoring the prevalence and emergence of new variants than the proportion of samples sequenced. To enable timely detection and monitoring of emerging variants, programs should achieve average testing rates of at least 100 tests/100,000 people/day and sequence 5-10% of test-positive specimens, which may be accomplished through sentinel or other routine surveillance systems. Under realistic assumptions, this averages to ~10 samples for sequencing/1,000,000 people/week. Interpretation For countries where testing capacities are low and sample collection is spatiotemporally biased, surveillance programs should prioritize investments in wider access to diagnostic testing to enable more representative sampling, ahead of simply increasing quantities of sequenced samples. Funding European Research Council, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Governments of Germany, Canada, UK, Australia, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Netherlands and Portugal.

5.
EuropePMC;
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-327213

ABSTRACT

Regional connectivity and land-based travel have been identified as important drivers of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. However, the generalizability of this finding is understudied outside of well-sampled, highly connected regions such as Europe. In this study, we investigated the relative contributions of regional and intercontinental connectivity to the source-sink dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 for Jordan and the wider Middle East. By integrating genomic, epidemiological and travel data we show that the source of introductions into Jordan was dynamic across 2020, shifting from intercontinental seeding from Europe in the early pandemic to more regional seeding for the period travel restrictions were in place. We show that land-based travel, particularly freight transport, drove introduction risk during the period of travel restrictions. Consistently, high regional connectivity and land-based travel also disproportionately drove Jordan's export risk to other Middle Eastern countries. Our findings emphasize regional connectedness and land-based travel as drivers of viral transmission in the Middle East. This demonstrates that strategies aiming to stop or slow the spread of viral introductions (including new variants) with travel restrictions need to prioritize risk from land-based travel alongside intercontinental air travel to be effective.

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