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Commun Med (Lond) ; 2: 41, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1860436


Background: The emergence of the Brazilian variant of concern, Gamma lineage (P.1), impacted the epidemiological profile of COVID-19 cases due to its higher transmissibility rate and immune evasion ability. Methods: We sequenced 305 SARS-CoV-2 whole-genomes and performed phylogenetic analyses to identify introduction events and the circulating lineages. Additionally, we use epidemiological data of COVID-19 cases, severe cases, and deaths to measure the impact of vaccination coverage and mortality risk. Results: Here we show that Gamma introduction in São José do Rio Preto, São Paulo, Brazil, was followed by the displacement of seven circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants and a rapid increase in prevalence two months after its first detection in January 2021. Moreover, Gamma variant is associated with increased mortality risk and severity of COVID-19 cases in younger age groups, which corresponds to the unvaccinated population at the time. Conclusions: Our findings highlight the beneficial effects of vaccination indicated by a pronounced reduction of severe cases and deaths in immunized individuals, reinforcing the need for rapid and massive vaccination.