Emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern in Canada: a retrospective analysis from clinical and wastewater data Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Abstract Background The spread of SARS-CoV-2 has been studied at unprecedented levels worldwide. In jurisdictions where molecular analysis was performed on large scales, the emergence and competition of numerous SARS-CoV-2lineages have been observed in near real-time. Lineage identification, traditionally performed from clinical samples, can also be determined by sampling wastewater from sewersheds serving populations of interest. Variants of concern (VOCs) and SARS-CoV-2 lineages associated with increased transmissibility and/or severity are of particular interest. Method Here, we consider clinical and wastewater data sources to assess the emergence and spread of VOCs in Canada retrospectively. Results We show that, overall, wastewater-based VOC identification provides similar insights to the surveillance based on clinical samples. Based on clinical data, we observed synchrony in VOC introduction as well as similar emergence speeds across most Canadian provinces despite the large geographical size of the country and differences in provincial public health measures. Conclusion In particular, it took approximately four months for VOC Alpha and Delta to contribute to half of the incidence. In contrast, VOC Omicron achieved the same contribution in less than one month. This study provides significant benchmarks to enhance planning for future VOCs, and to some extent for future pandemics caused by other pathogens, by quantifying the rate of SARS-CoV-2 VOCs invasion in Canada.


  • Champredon, David
  • Becker, Devan
  • Peterson, Shelley W
  • Mejia, Edgard
  • Hizon, Nikho
  • Schertzer, Andrea
  • Djebli, Mohamed
  • Oloye, Femi F
  • Xie, Yuwei
  • Asadi, Mohsen
  • Cantin, Jenna
  • Pu, Xia
  • Osunla, Charles A
  • Brinkmann, Markus
  • McPhedran, Kerry N
  • Servos, Mark R
  • Giesy, John P
  • Mangat, Chand

publication date

  • January 29, 2024