Introduction: Coinfection with two SARS-CoV-2 viruses is still a very understudied phenomenon. Although next generation sequencing methods are very sensitive to detect heterogeneous viral populations in a sample, there is no standardized method for their characterization, so their clinical and epidemiological importance is unknown. Material and methods: : We developed VICOS (Viral COinfection Surveillance), a new bioinformatic algorithm for variant calling, filtering and statistical analysis to identify samples suspected of being mixed SARS-CoV-2 populations from a large dataset in the framework of a community genomic surveillance. VICOS was used to detect SARS-CoV-2 coinfections in a dataset of 1,097 complete genomes collected between March 2020 and August 2021 in Argentina. Results: : We detected 23 cases (2%) of SARS-CoV-2 coinfections. Detailed study of VICOS’s results together with additional phylogenetic analysis revealed 3 cases of coinfections by two viruses of the same lineage, 2 cases by viruses of different genetic lineages, 13 were compatible with both coinfection and intra-host evolution, and 5 cases were likely a product of laboratory contamination. Discussion: : Intra-sample viral diversity provides important information to understand the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2. Advanced bioinformatics tools, such as VICOS, are a necessary resource to help unveil the hidden diversity of SARS-CoV-2.

Fuente: Virus Research
Available online 28 December 2022, 199035