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Novel recombinant SARS-CoV-2 lineage detected through genomic surveillance in Wales, UK

Pacchiarini, Nicole ORCID:, Cronin, Michelle, Sawyer, Clare, Williams, Catie, Beazer, Andrew, Cottrell, Simon, Morgan, Mari, Saunders, Vince, Moore, Catherine, Connor, Thomas R. ORCID: and Williams, Christopher 2023. Novel recombinant SARS-CoV-2 lineage detected through genomic surveillance in Wales, UK. Microbial Genomics 9 (4) , 000984. 10.1099/mgen.0.000984

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Recombination, the process whereby a segment of genetic material from one genome is inserted into another, producing a new chimeric genome, is an important evolutionary mechanism frequently observed in coronaviruses. The risks posed by recombination include the shuffling of advantageous mutations that may increase transmissibility, severity or vaccine escape. We present a genomic and epidemiological description of a new recombinant lineage of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), XR, first identified in Wales. The Pathogen Genomics Unit (Public Health Wales, UK) sequences positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR tests using the ARTIC SARS-CoV-2 sequencing protocol. Recombinants were detected using an in-house pipeline and the epidemiological data analysed in R. Nosocomial cases were defined as those with samples taken after >7 days in hospital. Between February and March 2022, we identified 78 samples with highly similar genomes, comprising a BA.1-like 5' end, a BA.2-like 3' end and a BA.2-like spike protein. This signature is consistent with recombination and was defined as XR by Pangolin (PANGO v1.8). A total of 50 % of cases had a sample collected whilst in hospital and the first three cases were immunocompromised patients. The patient median age was 58 years (range: 4–95 years) and most of the patients were fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 (74 % third dose/booster). Three patients died within 28 days of their sample collection date, one of whom had COVID-19 listed amongst ICD10 (International Classification of Diseases 10) coded causes of death. Our integrated system enabled real-time monitoring of recombinant SARS-CoV-2 for early detection, in order to rapidly risk assess and respond. This work highlights the importance of setting-based surveillance of recombinant SARS-CoV-2, as well as the need to monitor immunocompromised populations through repeat testing and sequencing.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Microbiology Society
ISSN: 2057-5858
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 16 May 2023
Date of Acceptance: 16 February 2023
Last Modified: 19 May 2023 06:24

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