Retrospective insights of the COVID-19 epidemic in the major latin American city, São Paulo, Southeastern Brazil

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São Paulo is the financial center of Brazil, with a population of over 12 million, that receives travelers from all over the world for business and tourism. It was the first city in Brazil to report a case of COVID-19 that rapidly spread across the city despite the implementation of the restriction measures. Despite many reports, much is still unknown regarding the genomic diversity and transmission dynamics of this virus in the city of São Paulo. Thus, in this study, we provide a retrospective overview of the COVID-19 epidemic in São Paulo City, Southeastern, Brazil, by generating a total of 9995 near-complete genome sequences from all the city’s different macro-regions (North, West, Central, East, South, and Southeast). Our analysis revealed that multiple independent introduction events of different variants (mainly Gamma, Delta, and Omicron) occurred throughout time. Additionally, our estimates of viral movement within the different macro-regions further suggested that the East and the Southeast regions were the largest contributors to the Gamma and Delta viral exchanges to other regions. Meanwhile, the North region had a higher contribution to the dispersion of the Omicron variant. Together, our results reinforce the importance of increasing SARS-CoV-2 genomic monitoring within the city and the country to track the real-time evolution of the virus and to detect earlier any eventual emergency of new variants of concern that could undermine the fight against COVID-19 in Brazil and worldwide.
PAA, LGC, MG, Ribeiro G, Lima ARJ, Martins AJ, et al. Retrospective insights of the COVID-19 epidemic in the major latin American city, São Paulo, Southeastern Brazil. Viruses. 2023 Jan; 15(2):327. doi:10.3390/v15020327.
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