Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Prevalence and diversity of imported severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 variants in China, 2021-2022.

The causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has spread accumulatively to 240 countries and continues to evolve. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the epidemiological characteristics of imported variants in China and their correlation with global circulating variants, genomic surveillance data from 11 139 imported COVID-19 cases submitted by Chinese provincial CDC laboratories between 2021 and 2022 were analyzed. Consensus sequences underwent rigorous quality checks, followed by amino acid mutations analysis using Nextclade. Sequences with satisfactory quality control status were classified according to the Pango nomenclature. The results showed that the dominant variants in imported cases reflected the global epidemic trend. An increase in the number of imported SARS-CoV-2 lineages monitored in China in the second half of 2022, and the circulating Omicron subvariants changed from the ancestral lineages of BA.5 and BA.2 into the lineages containing key amino acid mutations of spike protein. There was significant variation in the detection of Omicron subvariants among continents (χ2  = 321.968, p < 0.001) in the second half of 2022, with four lineages (BA.2.3.7, BA.2.2, BA.5.2.7, and XBB.1.2) identified through imported surveillance mainly prevalent respectively in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong SAR, China, Russian Federation, and Singapore. These findings revealed the alterations in circulating imported variants from 2021 to 2022 in China, reflecting the higher diversity of lineages in the second half of 2022, and revealed the predominant lineages of countries or regions that are in close contacts to China, providing new insights into the global prevalence of SARS-CoV-2.

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