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Dispersal history of SARS-CoV-2 variants Alpha, Delta, and Omicron (BA.1) in Spain


Different factors influence the spread of SARS-CoV-2, from the inherent transmission capabilities of the different variants to the control measurements put in place. Here we studied the introduction of the Alpha, Delta, and Omicron-BA.1 variants of concern (VOCs) into Spain. For this, we collected genomic data from the GISAID database and combined it with connectivity data from different countries with Spain to perform a phylodynamic Bayesian analysis of the introductions. Our findings reveal that the introductions of these VOCs predominantly originated from France, especially in the case of Alpha. As travel restrictions were eased during the Delta and Omicron-BA.1 waves, the number of introductions from distinct countries increased, with the United Kingdom and Germany becoming significant sources of the virus. The largest number of introductions detected corresponded to the Delta wave, which was associated with fewer restrictions and the summer period, when Spain receives a considerable number of tourists. This research underscores the importance of monitoring international travel patterns and implementing targeted public health measures to manage the spread of SARS-CoV-2.