SARS-CoV-2 variants shaped the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the discourse around effective control measures. Evaluating the threat posed by a new variant is essential for adapting response efforts when community transmission is detected. In this study, we compare the dynamics of two variants, Alpha and Iota, by integrating genomic surveillance data to estimate the effective reproduction number (Rt) of the variants. We use Connecticut, United States, in which Alpha and Iota co-circulated in 2021. We find that the Rt of these variants were up to 50% larger than that of other variants. We then use phylogeography to show that while both variants were introduced into Connecticut at comparable frequencies, clades that resulted from introductions of Alpha were larger than those resulting from Iota introductions. By monitoring the dynamics of individual variants throughout our study period, we demonstrate the importance of routine surveillance in the response to COVID-19.
© 2022. The Author(s).