Genetic Structure of SARS-CoV-2 Reflects Clonal Superspreading and Multiple Independent Introduction Events, North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany, February and March 2020   [open pdf - 176KB]

From the Document: "We whole-genome sequenced 55 SARS-CoV-2 [severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2] isolates from Germany to investigate SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks in 2020 in the Heinsberg district and Düsseldorf. While the genetic structure of the Heinsberg outbreak indicates a clonal origin, reflecting superspreading dynamics from mid-February during the carnival season, distinct viral strains were circulating in Düsseldorf in March, reflecting the city's international links. Limited detection of Heinsberg strains in the Düsseldorf area despite geographical proximity may reflect efficient containment and contact-tracing efforts. We report on the genetic structure of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany's most populous state (18 million inhabitants). Our analysis includes the 'Heinsberg outbreak', which started in the second half of February 2020 - comprising a superspreading event at a carnival session in Gangelt, a small municipality of ca 12,000 inhabitants on the border between Germany and the Netherlands - and subsequent outbreak dynamics in March, in the state capital Düsseldorf, located 70km from Gangelt and an international economic and air travel hub of ca 600,000 inhabitants."

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