We report the strategy leading to the first detection of variant of concern 202012/01 (VOC) in France (21 December 2020). First, the spike (S) deletion H69-V70 (ΔH69/ΔV70), identified in certain SARS-CoV-2 variants including VOC, is screened for. This deletion is associated with a S-gene target failure (SGTF) in the three-target RT-PCR assay (TaqPath kit). Subsequently, SGTF samples are whole genome sequenced. This approach revealed mutations co-occurring with ΔH69/ΔV70 including S:N501Y in the VOC.
Keywords: COVID-19, whole genome sequencing; SARS-CoV-2; spike protein, variants, deletion.