Introductions and early spread of SARS-CoV-2 in France

13 May 2020

RECOVER’s Clinical Biological Study team has published a preprint paper identifying several early independent SARS-CoV-2 introductions without local transmission, highlighting the efficacy of the measures taken in France to prevent virus spread from symptomatic cases.

Following the emergence of COVID-19 in Wuhan in December 2019, specific COVID-19 surveillance was launched in France on January 10 2020. Two weeks later, the first three imported cases of COVID-19 into Europe were diagnosed in France. 97 SARS-CoV-2 genomes were sequenced from samples collected between January 24 and March 24, 2020 from infected patients in France. The newly generated genomes were used to investigate the origins of SARS-CoV-2 lineages circulating in Northern France and better understand its spread.

Complete SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences were generated from nasopharyngeal or sputum samples addressed to the National Reference Center for Respiratory Viruses at the Institut Pasteur in Paris as part of the ongoing surveillance.

The analysis of the study indicates that the quarantine imposed on the initial COVID-19 cases in France appears to have prevented local transmission, and reveals areas for potential improvement of SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance in France.

In addition, the study sheds light on the origin and diversity of the COVID-19 outbreak in France with insights for Europe, and highlights the challenges of containment measures when a significant proportion of cases are asymptomatic.

Read article here.

Authors: Fabiana Gámbaro, Sylvie Behillil, Artem Baidaliuk, Flora Donati, Mélanie Albert, Andreea Alexandru, Maud Vanpeene, Méline Bizard, Angela Brisebarre, Marion Barbet, Fawzi Derrar, Sylvie van der Werf, Vincent Enouf, Etienne Simon-Loriere

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