Early Spread of SARS-Cov-2 in the Icelandic Population
BACKGROUND Limited data exist on how SARS-CoV-2 enters and spreads in the general population. METHODS We used two strategies for SARS-CoV-2 testing: targeted testing of high-risk individuals (n=4,551) and a population screening (n=5,502). We sequenced SARS-CoV-2 from 340 individuals. RESULTS On March 22 2020, 528 had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the targeted testing (11.6%) and 50 in the population screening (0.9%); approximately 0.2% of the Icelandic population. Large fractions of
... ractions of positives had travelled outside Iceland (38.4% and 34.0%). Fewer under 10 years old were positive than those older: 2.8% vs. 12.3% for targeted testing (P=1.6e-9) and 0.0% vs. 1.0% for population screening (P=0.031). Fewer females were positive in the targeted testing than males (9.5% vs. 14.6%, P=6.8e-9). SARS-CoV-2 came from eight clades, seven A clades and one B clade. The clade composition differed between the testing groups and changed with time. In the early targeted testing, 65.0% of clades were A2a1 and A2a2 derived from Italian and Austrian skiing areas, but in the later targeted testing went down to 30.6% and were overtaken by A1a and A2a, the most common clades in the population screening. CONCLUSION SARS-CoV-2 has spread widely in Iceland outside of the high-risk groups. Several strains cause these infections and their relative contribution changed rapidly. Children and females are less vulnerable than adults and males. To contain the pandemic we must increase the scope of the testing.