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Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21266109


The rapid spread of the SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern (VOC) Gamma during late 2020 and early 2021 in Brazilian settings with high seroprevalence raised some concern about the potential role of reinfections in driving the epidemic. Very few cases of reinfection associated with the VOC Gamma, however, have been reported. Here we describe 25 cases of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection confirmed by real-time RT-PCR twice within months apart in Brazil. SARS-CoV-2 genomic analysis confirmed that individuals were primo-infected between March and December 2020 with distinct viral lineages, including B.1.1, B.1.1.28, B.1.1.33, B.1.195 and P.2, and then reinfected with the VOC Gamma between 3 to 12 months after primo-infection. The overall mean cycle threshold (Ct) value of the first (25.7) and second (24.5) episodes were roughly similar for the whole group and 14 individuals displayed mean Ct values < 25.0 at reinfection. Sera of 14 patients tested by plaque reduction neutralization test after reinfection displayed detectable neutralizing antibodies against Gamma and other SARS-CoV-2 variants (B.1.33, B.1.1.28 and Delta). All individuals have milder or no symptoms after reinfection and none required hospitalization. The present study demonstrates that the VOC Gamma was associated with reinfections during the second Brazilian epidemic wave in 2021 and raised concern about the potential infectiousness of reinfected subjects. Although individuals here analyzed failed to mount a long-term sterilizing immunity, they developed a high anti-Gamma neutralizing antibody response after reinfection that may provide some protection against severe disease.

Preprint Dans Anglais | 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.

Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21259760


During the first nine months of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Uruguay successfully kept it under control, even when our previous studies support a recurrent viral flux across the Uruguayan-Brazilian border that sourced several local outbreaks in Uruguay. However, towards the end of 2020, a remarkable exponential growth was observed and the TETRIS strategy was lost. Here, we aimed to understand the factors that fueled SARS-CoV-2 viral dynamics during the first epidemic wave in the country. We recovered 84 whole viral genomes from patients diagnosed between November, 2020 and February, 2021 in Rocha, a sentinel eastern Uruguayan department bordering Brazil. The lineage B.1.1.28 was the most prevalent in Rocha during November-December 2020, P.2 became the dominant one during January-February 2021, while the first P.1 sequences corresponds to February, 2021. The lineage replacement process agrees with that observed in several Brazilian states, including Rio Grande do Sul (RS). We observed a one to three month delay between the appearance of P.2 and P.1 in RS and their subsequent detection in Rocha. The phylogenetic analysis detected two B.1.1.28 and one P.2 main Uruguayan SARS-CoV-2 clades, introduced from the southern and southeastern Brazilian regions into Rocha between early November and mid December, 2020. One synonymous mutation distinguishes the sequences of the main B.1.1.28 clade in Rocha from those widely distributed in RS. The minor B.1.1.28 cluster, distinguished by several mutations, harbours non-synonymous changes in the Spike protein: Q675H and Q677H, so far not concurrently reported. The convergent appearance of S:Q677H in different viral lineages and its proximity to the S1/S2 cleavage site raise concerns about its functional relevance. The observed S:E484K-VOI P.2 partial replacement of previously circulating lineages in Rocha might have increased transmissibility as suggested by the significant decrease in Ct values. Our study emphasizes the impact of Brazilian SARS-CoV-2 epidemics in Uruguay and the need of reinforcing real-time genomic surveillance on specific Uruguayan border locations, as one of the key elements for achieving long-term COVID-19 epidemic control.

Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20249026


BackgroundUruguay is one of the few countries in the Americas that successfully contained the COVID-19 epidemic during the first half of 2020. Nevertheless, the intensive human mobility across the dry border with Brazil is a major challenge for public health authorities. We aimed to investigate the origin of SARS-CoV-2 strains detected in Uruguayan localities bordering Brazil as well as to measure the viral flux across this [~]1,100 km uninterrupted dry frontier. MethodsUsing complete SARS-CoV-2 genomes from the Uruguayan-Brazilian bordering region and phylogeographic analyses, we inferred the virus dissemination frequency between Brazil and Uruguay and characterized local outbreak dynamics during the first months (May-July) of the pandemic. FindingsPhylogenetic analyses revealed multiple introductions of SARS-CoV-2 Brazilian lineages B.1.1.28 and B.1.1.33 into Uruguayan localities at the bordering region. The most probable sources of viral strains introduced to Uruguay were the Southeast Brazilian region and the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Some of the viral strains introduced in Uruguayan border localities between early May and mid-July were able to locally spread and originated the first outbreaks detected outside the metropolitan region. The viral lineages responsible for Uruguayan suburban outbreaks were defined by a set of between four and 11 mutations (synonymous and non-synonymous) respect to the ancestral B.1.1.28 and B.1.1.33 viruses that arose in Brazil, supporting the notion of a rapid genetic differentiation between SARS-CoV-2 subpopulations spreading in South America. InterpretationAlthough Uruguayan borders have remained essentially closed to non-Uruguayan citizens, the inevitable flow of people across the dry border with Brazil allowed the repeated entry of the virus into Uruguay and the subsequent emergence of local outbreaks in Uruguayan border localities. Implementation of coordinated bi-national surveillance systems are crucial to achieve an efficient control of the SARS-CoV-2 spread across this kind of highly permeable borderland regions around the world. Research in contextO_ST_ABSEvidence before this studyC_ST_ABSSince the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), causative agent of coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19), was first detected in South America on February 26, 2020, it has rapidly spread through the region, causing nearly 350,000 deaths by December, 2020. In contrast to most American countries, Uruguay avoided an early exponential growth of SARS-CoV-2 cases and during the first six months of the pandemic it registered the lowest incidence of SARS-CoV-2 cases and deaths among South American countries. The intensive cross-border human mobility through the [~]1,100 km uninterrupted dry frontier between Uruguay and Brazil, might poses a major challenge for long-term control of the epidemic in Uruguay. Previous genomic studies conducted in Uruguay have analyzed sequences mostly sampled at the capital city, Montevideo, and detected prevalent SARS-CoV-2 lineages different from those described in Brazil, thus finding no evidence of frequent viral exchanges between these countries. Added value of this studyHere we present the first genomic study of SARS-CoV-2 strains detected in different Uruguayan and Brazilian localities along the bordering region. The samples analyzed include 30% (n = 59) of all laboratory confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases from Uruguayan departments at the Brazilian border between March and July, 2020, as well as 68 SARS-CoV-2 sequences from individuals diagnosed in the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul between March and August, 2020. We demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 viral lineages that widely spread in the Southeastern Brazilian region (B.1.1.28 and B.1.1.33) were also responsible for most viral infections in Rio Grande do Sul and neighboring Uruguayan localities. We further uncover that major outbreaks detected in Uruguayan localities bordering Brazil in May and June, 2020, were originated from two independent introduction events of the Brazilian SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.33, unlike previous outbreaks in the Uruguayan metropolitan region that were seeded by European SARS-CoV-2 lineages. Implications of all the available evidenceOur findings confirm that although Uruguayan borders have remained essentially closed to non-Uruguayan citizens, dissemination of SARS-CoV-2 across the Uruguayan-Brazilian frontier was not fully suppressed and had the potential to ignite local transmission chains in Uruguay. These findings also highlight the relevance of implementing bi-national public health cooperation workforces combining epidemiologic and genomic data to monitor the viral spread throughout this kind of highly permeable dry frontiers around the world.

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