Emergence and Spread of SARS-CoV-2 Lineages B.1.1.7 and P.1 in Italy.
ABSTRACT: Italy's second wave of SARS-CoV-2 has hit hard, with more than three million cases and over 100,000 deaths, representing an almost ten-fold increase in the numbers reported by August 2020. Herein, we present an analysis of 6515 SARS-CoV-2 sequences sampled in Italy between 29 January 2020 and 1 March 2021 and show how different lineages emerged multiple times independently despite lockdown restrictions. Virus lineage B.1.177 became the dominant variant in November 2020, when cases peaked at 40,000 a day, but since January 2021 this is being replaced by the B.1.1.7 'variant of concern'. In addition, we report a sudden increase in another documented variant of concern-lineage P.1-from December 2020 onwards, most likely caused by a single introduction into Italy. We again highlight how international importations drive the emergence of new lineages and that genome sequencing should remain a top priority for ongoing surveillance in Italy.
Project description:The spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) resulted in an extraordinary global public health crisis. In early 2020, Cyprus, among other European countries, was affected by the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic and adopted lockdown measures in March 2020 to limit the initial outbreak on the island. In this study, we performed a comprehensive retrospective molecular epidemiological analysis (genetic, phylogenetic, phylodynamic and phylogeographic analyses) of SARS-CoV-2 isolates in Cyprus from April 2020 to January 2021, covering the first ten months of the SARS-CoV-2 infection epidemic on the island. The primary aim of this study was to assess the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 lineages in Cyprus. Whole SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences were generated from 596 clinical samples (nasopharyngeal swabs) obtained from community-based diagnostic testing centers and hospitalized patients. The phylogenetic analyses revealed a total of 34 different lineages in Cyprus, with B.1.258, B.1.1.29, B.1.177, B.1.2, B.1 and B.1.1.7 (designated a Variant of Concern 202012/01, VOC) being the most prevalent lineages on the island during the study period. Phylodynamic analysis showed a highly dynamic epidemic of SARS-CoV-2 infection, with three consecutive surges characterized by specific lineages (B.1.1.29 from April to June 2020; B.1.258 from September 2020 to January 2021; and B.1.1.7 from December 2020 to January 2021). Genetic analysis of whole SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences of the aforementioned lineages revealed the presence of mutations within the S protein (L18F, ΔH69/V70, S898F, ΔY144, S162G, A222V, N439K, N501Y, A570D, D614G, P681H, S982A and D1118H) that confer higher transmissibility and/or antibody escape (immune evasion) upon the virus. Phylogeographic analysis indicated that the majority of imports and exports were to and from the United Kingdom (UK), although many other regions/countries were identified (southeastern Asia, southern Europe, eastern Europe, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Chile, the USA, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Finland, Switzerland and Pakistan). Taken together, these findings demonstrate that the SARS-CoV-2 infection epidemic in Cyprus is being maintained by a continuous influx of lineages from many countries, resulting in the establishment of an ever-evolving and polyphyletic virus on the island.
Project description:The genomic diversity of SARS-CoV-2 is the result of a relatively low level of spontaneous mutations introduced during viral replication. With millions of SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences now available, we can begin to assess the overall genetic repertoire of this virus. We find that during 2020, there was a global wave of one variant that went largely unnoticed, possibly because its members were divided over several sublineages (B.1.177 and sublineages B.1.177.XX). We collectively call this Janus, and it was eventually replaced by the Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant of concern (VoC), next replaced by Delta (B.1.617.2), which itself might soon be replaced by a fourth pandemic wave consisting of Omicron (B.1.1.529). We observe that splitting up and redefining variant lineages over time, as was the case with Janus and is now happening with Alpha, Delta and Omicron, is not helpful to describe the epidemic waves spreading globally. Only ∼5% of the 30 000 nucleotides of the SARS-CoV-2 genome are found to be variable. We conclude that a fourth wave of the pandemic with the Omicron variant might not be that different from other VoCs, and that we may already have the tools in hand to effectively deal with this new VoC.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Since its emergence in Autumn 2020, the SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern (VOC) B.1.1.7 (WHO label Alpha) rapidly became the dominant lineage across much of Europe. Simultaneously, several other VOCs were identified globally. Unlike B.1.1.7, some of these VOCs possess mutations thought to confer partial immune escape. Understanding when and how these additional VOCs pose a threat in settings where B.1.1.7 is currently dominant is vital.<h4>Methods</h4>We examine trends in the prevalence of non-B.1.1.7 lineages in London and other English regions using passive-case detection PCR data, cross-sectional community infection surveys, genomic surveillance, and wastewater monitoring. The study period spans from 31st January 2021 to 15th May 2021.<h4>Findings</h4>Across data sources, the percentage of non-B.1.1.7 variants has been increasing since late March 2021. This increase was initially driven by a variety of lineages with immune escape. From mid-April, B.1.617.2 (WHO label Delta) spread rapidly, becoming the dominant variant in England by late May.<h4>Interpretation</h4>The outcome of competition between variants depends on a wide range of factors such as intrinsic transmissibility, evasion of prior immunity, demographic specificities and interactions with non-pharmaceutical interventions. The presence and rise of non-B.1.1.7 variants in March likely was driven by importations and some community transmission. There was competition between non-B.1.17 variants which resulted in B.1.617.2 becoming dominant in April and May with considerable community transmission. Our results underscore that early detection of new variants requires a diverse array of data sources in community surveillance. Continued real-time information on the highly dynamic composition and trajectory of different SARS-CoV-2 lineages is essential to future control efforts.<h4>Funding</h4>National Institute for Health Research, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, DeepMind, EPSRC, EA Funds programme, Open Philanthropy, Academy of Medical Sciences Bill,Melinda Gates Foundation, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, The Novo Nordisk Foundation, MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, Community Jameel, Cancer Research UK, Imperial College COVID-19 Research Fund, Medical Research Council, Wellcome Sanger Institute.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Wastewater surveillance was proposed as an epidemiological tool to define the prevalence and evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemics. However, most implemented SARS-CoV-2 wastewater surveillance projects were based on qPCR measurement of virus titers and did not address the mutational spectrum of SARS-CoV-2 circulating in the population.<h4>Methods</h4>We have implemented a nanopore RNA sequencing monitoring system in the city of Nice (France, 550,000 inhabitants). Between October 2020 and March 2021, we monthly analyzed the SARS-CoV-2 variants in 113 wastewater samples collected in the main wastewater treatment plant and 20 neighborhoods.<h4>Findings</h4>We initially detected the lineages predominant in Europe at the end of 2020 (B.1.160, B.1.177, B.1.367, B.1.474, and B.1.221). In January, a localized emergence of a variant (Spike:A522S) of the B.1.1.7 lineage occurred in one neighborhood. It rapidly spread and became dominant all over the city. Other variants of concern (B.1.351, P.1) were also detected in some neighborhoods, but at low frequency. Comparison with individual clinical samples collected during the same week showed that wastewater sequencing correctly identified the same lineages as those found in COVID-19 patients.<h4>Interpretation</h4>Wastewater sequencing allowed to document the diversity of SARS-CoV-2 sequences within the different neighborhoods of the city of Nice. Our results illustrate how sequencing of sewage samples can be used to track pathogen sequence diversity in the current pandemics and in future infectious disease outbreaks.<h4>Translation</h4>For the French translation of the abstract see Supplementary Materials section.
Project description:In 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic was characterized by global spread of several lineages with evidence for increased transmissibility. Throughout the pandemic, Russia has remained among the countries with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, making it a potential hotspot for emergence of novel variants. Here, we show that among the globally significant variants of concern that have spread globally by late 2020, alpha (B.1.1.7), beta (B.1.351) or gamma (P.1), none have been sampled in Russia before the end of 2020. Instead, between summer 2020 and spring 2021, the epidemic in Russia has been characterized by the spread of two lineages that were rare in most other countries: B.1.1.317 and a sublineage of B.1.1 including B.1.1.397 (hereafter, B.1.1.397+). Their frequency has increased concordantly in different parts of Russia. On top of these lineages, in late December 2020, alpha (B.1.1.7) emerged in Russia, reaching a frequency of 17.4% (95% C.I.: 12.0%-24.4%) in March 2021. Additionally, we identify three novel distinct lineages, AT.1, B.1.1.524 and B.1.1.525, that have started to spread, together reaching the frequency of 11.8% (95% C.I.: 7.5%-18.1%) in March 2021. These lineages carry combinations of several notable mutations, including the S:E484K mutation of concern, deletions at a recurrent deletion region of the spike glycoprotein (S:Δ140-142, S:Δ144 or S:Δ136-144), and nsp6:Δ106-108 (also known as ORF1a:Δ3675-3677). Community-based PCR testing indicates that these variants have continued to spread in April 2021, with the frequency of B.1.1.7 reaching 21.7% (95% C.I.: 12.3%-35.6%), and the joint frequency of B.1.1.524 and B.1.1.525, 15.2% (95% C.I.: 7.6%-28.2%). Although these variants have been displaced by the onset of delta variant in May-June 2021, lineages B.1.1.317, B.1.1.397+, AT.1, B.1.1.524 and B.1.1.525 and the combinations of mutations comprising them that are found in other lineages merit monitoring.
Project description:In-depth study of the entire SARS-CoV-2 genome has uncovered many mutations, which have replaced the lineage that characterized the first wave of infections all around the world. In December 2020, the outbreak of variant of concern (VOC) 202012/01 (lineage B.1.1.7) in the United Kingdom defined a turning point during the pandemic, immediately posing a worldwide threat on the Covid-19 vaccination campaign. Here, we reported the evolution of B.1.1.7 lineage-related infections, analyzing samples collected from January 1st 2021, until April 15th 2021, in Friuli Venezia Giulia, a northeastern region of Italy. A cohort of 1508 nasopharyngeal swabs was analyzed by High Resolution Melting (HRM) and 479 randomly selected samples underwent Next Generation Sequencing analysis (NGS), uncovering a steady and continuous accumulation of B.1.1.7 lineage-related specimens, joined by sporadic cases of other known lineages (i.e. harboring the Spike glycoprotein p.E484K mutation). All the SARS-CoV-2 genome has been analyzed in order to highlight all the rare mutations that may eventually result in a new variant of interest. This work suggests that a thorough monitoring of the SARS-CoV-2 genome by NGS is essential to contain any new variant that could jeopardize all the efforts that have been made so far to resolve the emergence of the pandemic.
Project description:<b>Objective:</b> To analyze the SARS-CoV-2 genomic epidemiology in the Balearic Islands, a unique setting in which the course of the pandemic has been influenced by a complex interplay between insularity, severe social restrictions and tourism travels. <b>Methods:</b> Since the onset of the pandemic, more than 2,700 SARS-CoV-2 positive respiratory samples have been randomly selected and sequenced in the Balearic Islands. Genetic diversity of circulating variants was assessed by lineage assignment of consensus whole genome sequences with PANGOLIN and investigation of additional spike mutations. <b>Results:</b> Consensus sequences were assigned to 46 different PANGO lineages and 75% of genomes were classified within a VOC, VUI, or VUM variant according to the WHO definitions. Highest genetic diversity was documented in the island of Majorca (42 different lineages detected). Globally, lineages B.1.1.7 and B.1.617.2/AY.X were identified as the 2 major lineages circulating in the Balearic Islands during the pandemic, distantly followed by lineages B.1.177/B.1.177.X. However, in Ibiza/Formentera lineage distribution was slightly different and lineage B.1.221 was the third most prevalent. Temporal distribution analysis showed that B.1 and B.1.5 lineages dominated the first epidemic wave, lineage B.1.177 dominated the second and third, and lineage B.1.617.2 the fourth. Of note, lineage B.1.1.7 became the most prevalent circulating lineage during first half of 2021; however, it was not associated with an increased in COVID-19 cases likely due to severe social restrictions and limited travels. Additional spike mutations were rarely documented with the exception of mutation S:Q613H which has been detected in several genomes (<i>n</i> = 25) since July 2021. <b>Conclusion:</b> Virus evolution, mainly driven by the acquisition and selection of spike substitutions conferring biological advantages, social restrictions, and size population are apparently key factors for explaining the epidemic patterns registered in the Balearic Islands.
Project description:Uruguay controlled the viral dissemination during the first nine months of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Unfortunately, towards the end of 2020, the number of daily new cases exponentially increased. Herein, we analyzed the country-wide genetic diversity of SARS-CoV-2 between November 2020 and April 2021. We identified that the most prevalent viral variant during the first epidemic wave in Uruguay (December 2020-February 2021) was a B.1.1.28 sublineage carrying Spike mutations Q675H + Q677H, now designated as P.6, followed by lineages P.2 and P.7. P.6 probably arose around November 2020, in Montevideo, Uruguay's capital department, and rapidly spread to other departments, with evidence of further local transmission clusters; it also spread sporadically to the USA and Spain. The more efficient dissemination of lineage P.6 with respect to P.2 and P.7 and the presence of mutations (Q675H and Q677H) in the proximity of the key cleavage site at the S1/S2 boundary suggest that P.6 may be more transmissible than other lineages co-circulating in Uruguay. Although P.6 was replaced by the variant of concern (VOC) P.1 as the predominant lineage in Uruguay since April 2021, the monitoring of the concurrent emergence of Q675H + Q677H in VOCs should be of worldwide interest.
Project description:SARS-CoV-2 mutants carrying the ∆H69/∆V70 deletion in the amino-terminal domain of the Spike protein emerged independently in at least six lineages of the virus (namely, B.1.1.7, B.1.1.298, B.1.160, B.1.177, B.1.258, B.1.375). We analyzed SARS-CoV-2 samples collected from various regions of Slovakia between November and December 2020 that were presumed to contain B.1.1.7 variant due to drop-out of the Spike gene target in an RT-qPCR test caused by this deletion. Sequencing of these samples revealed that although in some cases the samples were indeed confirmed as B.1.1.7, a substantial fraction of samples contained another ∆H69/∆V70 carrying mutant belonging to the lineage B.1.258, which has been circulating in Central Europe since August 2020, long before the import of B.1.1.7. Phylogenetic analysis shows that the early sublineage of B.1.258 acquired the N439K substitution in the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the Spike protein and, later on, also the deletion ∆H69/∆V70 in the Spike N-terminal domain (NTD). This variant was particularly common in several European countries including the Czech Republic and Slovakia but has been quickly replaced by B.1.1.7 early in 2021.
Project description:The rapid evolution of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is manifested by the emergence of an ever-growing pool of genetic lineages. The aim of this study was to analyze the genetic variability of SARS-CoV-2 in Jordan, with a special focus on the UK variant of concern. A total of 579 SARS-CoV-2 sequences collected in Jordan were subjected to maximum likelihood and Bayesian phylogenetic analysis. Genetic lineage assignment was undertaken using the Pango system. Amino acid substitutions were investigated using the Protein Variation Effect Analyzer (PROVEAN) tool. A total of 19 different SARS-CoV-2 genetic lineages were detected, with the most frequent being the first Jordan lineage (B.1.1.312), first detected in August 2020 (<i>n</i> = 424, 73.2%). This was followed by the second Jordan lineage (B.1.36.10), first detected in September 2020 (<i>n</i> = 62, 10.7%), and the UK variant of concern (B.1.1.7; <i>n</i> = 36, 6.2%). In the spike gene region, the molecular signature for B.1.1.312 was the non-synonymous mutation A24432T resulting in a deleterious amino acid substitution (Q957L), while the molecular signature for B.1.36.10 was the synonymous mutation C22444T. Bayesian analysis revealed that the UK variant of concern (B.1.1.7) was introduced into Jordan in late November 2020 (mean estimate); four weeks earlier than its official reporting in the country. In Jordan, an exponential increase in COVID-19 cases due to B.1.1.7 lineage coincided with the new year 2021. The highest proportion of phylogenetic clustering was detected for the B.1.1.7 lineage. The amino acid substitution D614G in the spike glycoprotein was exclusively present in the country from July 2020 onwards. Two Jordanian lineages dominated infections in the country, with continuous introduction/emergence of new lineages. In Jordan, the rapid spread of the UK variant of concern should be monitored closely. The spread of SARS-CoV-2 mutants appeared to be related to the founder effect; nevertheless, the biological impact of certain mutations should be further investigated.