BackgroundThe spatiotemporal profiling of molecular transmission clusters (MTCs) using viral genomic data can effectively identify transmission networks in order to inform public health actions targeting SARS-CoV-2 spread.
MethodsWe used whole genome SARS-CoV-2 sequences derived from ten European regions belonging to eight countries to perform phylogenetic and phylodynamic analysis. We developed dedicated bioinformatics pipelines to identify regional MTCs and to assess demographic factors potentially associated with their formation.
ResultsThe total number and the scale of MTCs varied from small household clusters identified in all regions, to a super-spreading event found in Uusimaa-FI. Specific age groups were more likely to belong to MTCs in different regions. The clustered sequences referring to the age groups 50-100 years old (y.o.) were increased in all regions two weeks after the establishment of the lockdown, while those referring to the age group 0-19 y.o. decreased only in those regions where schools' closure was combined with a lockdown.
ConclusionsThe spatiotemporal profiling of the SARS-CoV-2 MTCs can be a useful tool to monitor the effectiveness of the interventions and to reveal cryptic transmissions that have not been identified through contact tracing.