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Genomic surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 lineages informs our understanding of possible future changes in transmissibility and vaccine efficacy. However, small changes in the frequency of one lineage over another are often difficult to interpret because surveillance samples are obtained from a variety of sources. Here, we describe lineage dynamics and phylogenetic relationships using sequences obtained from a random community sample who provided a throat and nose swab for rt-PCR during the first three months of 2021 as part of the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study. Overall, diversity decreased during the first quarter of 2021, with the B.1.1.7 lineage (first identified in Kent) predominant, driven by a 0.3 unit higher reproduction number over the prior wild type. During January, positive samples were more likely B.1.1.7 in younger and middle-aged adults (aged 18 to 54) than in other age groups. Although individuals infected with the B.1.1.7 lineage were no more likely to report one or more classic COVID-19 symptoms compared to those infected with wild type, they were more likely to be antibody positive 6 weeks after infection. Viral load was higher in B.1.1.7 infection as measured by cycle threshold (Ct) values, but did not account for the increased rate of testing positive for antibodies. The presence of infections with non-imported B.1.351 lineage (first identified in South Africa) during January, but not during February or March, suggests initial establishment in the community followed by fade-out. However, this occurred during a period of stringent social distancing and targeted public health interventions and does not immediately imply similar lineages could not become established in the future. Sequence data from representative community surveys such as REACT-1 can augment routine genomic surveillance.

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