Detection of SARS-CoV-2 variant 501Y.V2 in Comoros Islands in January 2021.
N Agoti C., Githinji G., S Mohammed K., W Lambisia A., R de Laurent Z., W Mburu M., M Ong'era E., M Morobe J., Otieno E., Abdou Azali H., Said Abdallah K., Diarra A., Ahmed Yahaya A., Borus P., Gumede Moeletsi N., Fred Athanasius D., Tsofa B., Bejon P., James Nokes D., Isabella Ochola-Oyier L.
Background. Genomic data is key in understanding the spread and evolution of SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and informing the design and evaluation of interventions. However, SARS-CoV-2 genomic data remains scarce across Africa, with no reports yet from the Indian Ocean islands. Methods. We genome sequenced six SARS-CoV-2 positive samples from the first major infection wave in the Union of Comoros in January 2021 and undertook detailed phylogenetic analysis. Results. All the recovered six genomes classified within the 501Y.V2 variant of concern (also known as lineage B.1.351) and appeared to be from 2 sub-clusters with the most recent common ancestor dated 30 th Oct-2020 (95% Credibility Interval: 06 th Sep-2020 to 10 th Dec-2020). Comparison of the Comoros genomes with those of 501Y.V2 variant of concern from other countries deposited into the GISAID database revealed their close association with viruses identified in France and Mayotte (part of the Comoros archipelago and a France, Overseas Department). Conclusions. The recovered genomes, albeit few, confirmed local transmission following probably multiple introductions of the SARS-CoV-2 501Y.V2 variant of concern during the Comoros's first major COVID-19 wave. These findings demonstrate the importance of genomic surveillance and have implications for ongoing control strategies on the islands.