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Quantification of the spread of SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 in Switzerland


Abstract

BACKGROUND

In December 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) reported a SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern (VoC) which is now named B.1.1.7. Based on initial data from the UK and later data from other countries, this variant was estimated to have a transmission fitness advantage of around 40-80 % (Volz et al., 2021; Leung et al., 2021; Davies et al., 2021).

AIM

This study aims to estimate the transmission fitness advantage and the effective reproductive number of B.1.1.7 through time based on data from Switzerland.

METHODS

We generated whole genome sequences from 11.8 % of all confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases in Switzerland between 14 December 2020 and 11 March 2021. Based on these data, we determine the daily frequency of the B.1.1.7 variant and quantify the variant's transmission fitness advantage on a national and a regional scale.

RESULTS

We estimate B.1.1.7 had a transmission fitness advantage of 43-52 % compared to the other variants circulating in Switzerland during the study period. Further, we estimate B.1.1.7 had a reproductive number above 1 from 01 January 2021 until the end of the study period, compared to below 1 for the other variants. Specifically, we estimate the reproductive number for B.1.1.7 was 1.24 [1.07-1.41] from 01 January until 17 January 2021 and 1.18 [1.06-1.30] from 18 January until 01 March 2021 based on the whole genome sequencing data. From 10 March to 16 March 2021, once B.1.1.7 was dominant, we estimate the reproductive number was 1.14 [1.00-1.26] based on all confirmed cases. For reference, Switzerland applied more non-pharmaceutical interventions to combat SARS-CoV-2 on 18 January 2021 and lifted some measures again on 01 March 2021.

CONCLUSION

The observed increase in B.1.1.7 frequency in Switzerland during the study period is as expected based on observations in the UK. In absolute numbers, B.1.1.7 increased exponentially with an estimated doubling time of around 2-3.5 weeks. To monitor the ongoing spread of B.1.1.7, our plots are available online.

Abstract

BACKGROUND

In December 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) reported a SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern (VoC) which is now named B.1.1.7. Based on initial data from the UK and later data from other countries, this variant was estimated to have a transmission fitness advantage of around 40-80 % (Volz et al., 2021; Leung et al., 2021; Davies et al., 2021).

AIM

This study aims to estimate the transmission fitness advantage and the effective reproductive number of B.1.1.7 through time based on data from Switzerland.

METHODS

We generated whole genome sequences from 11.8 % of all confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases in Switzerland between 14 December 2020 and 11 March 2021. Based on these data, we determine the daily frequency of the B.1.1.7 variant and quantify the variant's transmission fitness advantage on a national and a regional scale.

RESULTS

We estimate B.1.1.7 had a transmission fitness advantage of 43-52 % compared to the other variants circulating in Switzerland during the study period. Further, we estimate B.1.1.7 had a reproductive number above 1 from 01 January 2021 until the end of the study period, compared to below 1 for the other variants. Specifically, we estimate the reproductive number for B.1.1.7 was 1.24 [1.07-1.41] from 01 January until 17 January 2021 and 1.18 [1.06-1.30] from 18 January until 01 March 2021 based on the whole genome sequencing data. From 10 March to 16 March 2021, once B.1.1.7 was dominant, we estimate the reproductive number was 1.14 [1.00-1.26] based on all confirmed cases. For reference, Switzerland applied more non-pharmaceutical interventions to combat SARS-CoV-2 on 18 January 2021 and lifted some measures again on 01 March 2021.

CONCLUSION

The observed increase in B.1.1.7 frequency in Switzerland during the study period is as expected based on observations in the UK. In absolute numbers, B.1.1.7 increased exponentially with an estimated doubling time of around 2-3.5 weeks. To monitor the ongoing spread of B.1.1.7, our plots are available online.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Functional Genomics Center Zurich
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Epidemiology
Life Sciences > Parasitology
Life Sciences > Microbiology
Health Sciences > Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
Health Sciences > Infectious Diseases
Life Sciences > Virology
Language:English
Date:December 2021
Deposited On:27 Jan 2022 10:42
Last Modified:26 Jun 2024 01:46
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1878-0067
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epidem.2021.100480
PubMed ID:34488035
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)