Rapid epidemic expansion of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant in southern Africa

Raquel Viana, Sikhulile Moyo, Daniel G. Amoako, Houriiyah Tegally, Cathrine Scheepers, Christian L. Althaus, Ugochukwu J. Anyaneji, Phillip A. Bester, Maciej F. Boni, Mohammed Chand, Wonderful T. Choga, Rachel Colquhoun, Michaela Davids, Koen Deforche, Deelan Doolabh, Louis du Plessis, Susan Engelbrecht, Josie Everatt, Jennifer Giandhari, Marta GiovanettiDiana Hardie, Verity Hill, Nei Yuan Hsiao, Arash Iranzadeh, Arshad Ismail, Charity Joseph, Rageema Joseph, Legodile Koopile, Sergei L. Kosakovsky Pond, Moritz U.G. Kraemer, Lesego Kuate-Lere, Oluwakemi Laguda-Akingba, Onalethatha Lesetedi-Mafoko, Richard J. Lessells, Shahin Lockman, Alexander G. Lucaci, Arisha Maharaj, Boitshoko Mahlangu, Tongai Maponga, Kamela Mahlakwane, Zinhle Makatini, Gert Marais, Dorcas Maruapula, Kereng Masupu, Mogomotsi Matshaba, Simnikiwe Mayaphi, Nokuzola Mbhele, Mpaphi B. Mbulawa, Adriano Mendes, Koleka Mlisana, Anele Mnguni, Thabo Mohale, Monika Moir, Kgomotso Moruisi, Mosepele Mosepele, Gerald Motsatsi, Modisa S. Motswaledi, Thongbotho Mphoyakgosi, Nokukhanya Msomi, Peter N. Mwangi, Yeshnee Naidoo, Noxolo Ntuli, Martin Nyaga, Lucier Olubayo, Sureshnee Pillay, Botshelo Radibe, Yajna Ramphal, Upasana Ramphal, James E. San, Lesley Scott, Roger Shapiro, Lavanya Singh, Pamela Smith-Lawrence, Wendy Stevens, Amy Strydom, Kathleen Subramoney, Naume Tebeila, Derek Tshiabuila, Joseph Tsui, Stephanie van Wyk, Steven Weaver, Constantinos K. Wibmer, Eduan Wilkinson, Nicole Wolter, Alexander E. Zarebski, Boitumelo Zuze, Dominique Goedhals, Wolfgang Preiser, Florette Treurnicht, Marietje Venter, Carolyn Williamson, Oliver G. Pybus, Jinal Bhiman, Allison Glass, Darren P. Martin, Andrew Rambaut, Simani Gaseitsiwe, Anne von Gottberg, Tulio de Oliveira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

979 Scopus citations

Abstract

The SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in southern Africa has been characterized by three distinct waves. The first was associated with a mix of SARS-CoV-2 lineages, while the second and third waves were driven by the Beta (B.1.351) and Delta (B.1.617.2) variants, respectively1–3. In November 2021, genomic surveillance teams in South Africa and Botswana detected a new SARS-CoV-2 variant associated with a rapid resurgence of infections in Gauteng province, South Africa. Within three days of the first genome being uploaded, it was designated a variant of concern (Omicron, B.1.1.529) by the World Health Organization and, within three weeks, had been identified in 87 countries. The Omicron variant is exceptional for carrying over 30 mutations in the spike glycoprotein, which are predicted to influence antibody neutralization and spike function4. Here we describe the genomic profile and early transmission dynamics of Omicron, highlighting the rapid spread in regions with high levels of population immunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-686
Number of pages8
JournalNature
Volume603
Issue number7902
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 24 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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