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Genetic diversity and evolution of SARS-CoV-2 in Belgium during the first wave outbreak

By Tony Wawina-Bokalanga, Joan Marti-Carreras, Bert Vanmechelen, Mandy Bloemen, Elke Wollants, Lies Laenen, Lize Cuypers, Kurt Beuselinck, Katrien Lagrou, Emmanuel Andre, Marc Van Ranst, Piet Maes

Posted 29 Jun 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.06.29.450330

SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19 was first detected in Belgium on 3rd February 2020, albeit the first epidemiological wave started in March and ended in June 2020. One year after the first epidemiological wave hit the country data analyses reveled the temporal and variant distribution of SARS-CoV-2 and its implication with Belgian epidemiological measures. In this study, 766 complete SARS-CoV-2 genomes of samples originating from the first epidemiological were sequenced to characterize the temporal and geographic distribution of the COVID-19 pandemic in Belgium through phylogenetic and variant analysis. Our analysis reveals the presence of the major circulating SARS-CoV-2 clades (G, GH and GR) and lineages circulating in Belgium at that time. Moreover, it contextualizes the density of SARS-CoV-2 cases over time with non-intervention measures taken to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Belgium, specific international case imports and the functional implications of the most representative non-synonymous mutations present in Belgium between February to June 2020.

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