Katharina Jahn, David Dreifuss, Ivan Topolsky, Anina Kull, Pravin Ganesanandamoorthy, Xavier Fernandez-Cassi, Carola Bänziger, Elyse Stachler, Lara Fuhrmann, Kim Philipp Jablonski, Chaoran Chen, Catharine Aquino, Tanja Stadler, Christoph Ort, Tamar Kohn, Timothy R. Julian, Niko Beerenwinkel. Detection of SARS-CoV-2 variants in Switzerland by genomic analysis of wastewater samples. Technical Report 10.1101/2021.01.08.21249379v1, medRxiv, 2021.
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The SARS-CoV-2 lineages B.1.1.7 and 501.V2, which were first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa, respectively, are spreading rapidly in the human population. Thus, there is an increased need for genomic and epidemiological surveillance in order to detect the strains and estimate their abundances. Here, we report a genomic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in 48 raw wastewater samples collected from three wastewater treatment plants in Switzerland between July 9 and December 21, 2020. We find evidence for the presence of several mutations that define the B.1.1.7 and 501.V2 lineages in some of the samples, including co-occurrences of up to three B.1.1.7 signature mutations on the same amplicon in four samples from Lausanne and one sample from a Swiss ski resort dated December 9 - 21. These findings suggest that the B.1.1.7 strain could be detected by mid December, two weeks before its first verification in a patient sample from Switzerland. We conclude that sequencing SARS-CoV-2 in community wastewater samples may help detect and monitor the circulation of diverse lineages.