SARS-CoV-2 variants in severely symptomatic and deceased persons who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 in São Paulo, Brazil

Campos et al.

COVID-19 vaccination began in São Paulo, Brazil in January 2021, first targeting healthcare workers (HCWs) and the elderly, using the CoronaVac vaccine (Sinovac/Butantan) and subsequently the Oxford/AstraZeneca (ChAdOx1) vaccine (AstraZeneca/FIOCRUZ-RJ). Studies on such vaccines have shown efficacy in preventing severe cases and deaths, but there is a lack of information regarding their effectiveness. This manuscript presents data from the Instituto Adolfo Lutz (IAL), a public health laboratory located in São Paulo City that receives samples from 17 Regional Health Departments under the Secretary of Health of São Paulo, for SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance. Through May 15, 2021 IAL received 20 samples for analysis from COVID-19 vaccinated individuals who needed hospitalization and/or died from COVID-19. Next-generation sequencing was performed on an Ion Torrent S5 platform using the AmpliSeq™ SARS-CoV-2 kit. Almost all cases were vaccinated with CoronaVac and presented the gamma variant of concern (VOC). Cases of death were observed mostly in the elderly in nursing homes, and severe cases in younger frontline HCWs. This data confirmed that the SARSCoV-2 gamma variant is highly transmissible, severe, and lethal for COVID-19 in these groups of individuals, thereby highlighting the importance of continuous vaccination and non-pharmacological prevention measures to avoid virus dissemination and the emergence of new VOCs.

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