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Fueling outbreaks The B.1.1.7 lineage of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused fast-spreading outbreaks globally. Intrinsically, this variant has greater transmissibility than its predecessors, but this capacity has been amplified in some circumstances to tragic effect by a combination of human behavior and local immunity. What are the extrinsic factors that help or hinder the rapid dissemination of variants? Kraemer et al . explored the invasion dynamics of B.1.1.7. in fine detail, from its location of origin in Kent, UK, to its heterogenous spread around the country. A combination of mobile phone and virus data including more than 17,000 genomes shows how distinct phases of dispersal were related to intensity of mobility and the timing of lockdowns. As the local outbreaks grew, importation from the London source area became less important. Had B.1.1.7. emerged at a slightly different time of year, its impact might have been different. —CA

Original publication




Journal article




American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Publication Date





889 - 895