SARS-CoV-2 laboratory surveillance during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in southern Brazil
ABSTRACT Background: Brazil has one of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths. Rio Grande do Sul (RS) in southern Brazil is one of the leading states in terms of case numbers. As part of the national public health network, the State Central Laboratory (LACEN-RS) changed its routine in 2020 to focus on the diagnosis of COVID-19. This study evaluated the laboratory surveillance of COVID-19 suspected cases analyzed at the LACEN-RS in 2020. Methods: Viral detection was performed using RT-qPCR in samples from patients with respiratory infection who met the study criteria. Viral RNA was isolated using commercial manual kits or automated extractors, and SARS-CoV-2 RT-qPCR was performed using the Bio-Manguinhos/Rio de Janeiro, IBMP/Paraná, or Allplex 2019-nCoV assay. In total, 360 representative SARS-CoV-2 samples were sequenced using the Illumina platform. Results: In total, 31,197 of 107,578 (positivity rate = 29%) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The number of RT-qPCR tests performed per month followed the COVID-19 epidemic curve observed for the state, with peaks in July-August and December. Females accounted for 63% of the samples, whereas the positivity rate was higher among males (33.1% males vs. 26.5% females). The positivity rate was higher in adults aged 50-79 years compared to the overall positivity rate. The majority of cases were observed in the capital, Porto Alegre, and the metropolitan region. Ten distinct lineages were identified, with B.1.1.28, B.1.1.33, and P.2 being the most frequent. Conclusions: Here, we describe laboratory surveillance of COVID-19 to identify priorities for epidemiological surveillance actions in RS.