Authors: Giovanetti M, Slavov SN, Fonseca V, Wilkinson E, Tegally H, Patané JSL, Viala VL, San JE, Rodrigues ES, Vieira Santos E, Aburjaile F, Xavier J, Fritsch H, Ribeiro Adelino TE, Pereira F, Leal A, Campos de Melo Iani F, de Carvalho Pereira G, Vazquez C, Mercedes Estigarribia Sanabria G, de Oliveira EC, Demarchi L, Croda J, Dos Santos Bezerra R, Oliveira de Lima LP, Martins AJ, Dos Santos Barros CR, Marqueze EC, de Souza Todao Bernardino J, Moretti DB, Brassaloti RA, de Lello Rocha Campos Cassano R, Drummond Sampaio Corrêa Mariani P, Kitajima JP, Santos B, Proto-Siqueira R, Cantarelli VV, Tosta S, Brandão Nardy V, Reboredo de Oliveira da Silva L, Astete Gómez MK, Lima JG, Ribeiro AA, Guimarães NR, Watanabe LT, Barbosa Da Silva L, da Silva Ferreira R, F da Penha MP, Ortega MJ, Gómez de la Fuente A, Villalba S, Torales J, Gamarra ML, Aquino C, Martínez Figueredo GP, Fava WS, Motta-Castro ARC, Venturini J, do Vale Leone de Oliveira SM, Cavalheiro Maymone Gonçalves C, Debur Rossa MDC, Becker GN, Presibella MM, Marques NQ, Riediger IN, Raboni S, Coelho GM, Cataneo AHD, Zanluca C, Dos Santos CND, Assato PA, Allan da Silva da Costa F, Poleti MD, Chagas Lesbon JC, Mattos EC, Banho CA, Sacchetto L, Moraes MM, Tommasini Grotto RM, Souza-Neto JA, Nogueira ML, Fukumasu H, Coutinho LL, Calado RT, Neto RM, Bispo de Filippis AM, Venancio da Cunha R, Freitas C, Leonel Peterka CR, Rangel Fernandes CF, de Araújo WN, do Carmo Said RF, Almiron M, Campelo de Albuquerque E Melo CF, Lourenço J, de Oliveira T, Holmes EC, Haddad R, Sampaio SC, Elias MC, Kashima S, de Alcantara LCJ, Covas DT
Brazil has experienced some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths globally and from May 2021 made Latin America a pandemic epicenter. Although SARS-CoV-2 established sustained transmission in Brazil early in the pandemic, important gaps remain in our understanding of virus transmission dynamics at the national scale. Here, we describe the genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 using near-full genomes sampled from 27 Brazilian states and a bordering country - Paraguay. We show that the early stage of the pandemic in Brazil was characterised by the co-circulation of multiple viral lineages, linked to multiple importations predominantly from Europe, and subsequently characterized by large local transmission clusters. As the epidemic progressed under an absence of effective restriction measures, there was a local emergence and onward international spread of Variants of Concern (VOC) and Variants Under Monitoring (VUM), including Gamma (P.1) and Zeta (P.2). In addition, we provide a preliminary genomic overview of the epidemic in Paraguay, showing evidence of importation from Brazil. These data reinforce the usefulness and need for the implementation of widespread genomic surveillance in South America as a toolkit for pandemic monitoring that provides a means to follow the real-time spread of emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants with possible implications for public health and immunization strategies.