Identifying the dissemination patterns and impacts of a virus of economic or health importance during a pandemic is crucial, as it informs the public on policies for containment in order to reduce the spread of the virus. In this study, we integrated genomic and travel data to investigate the emergence and spread of the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.318 and B.1.525 (Eta) variants of interest in Nigeria and the wider Africa region. By integrating travel data and phylogeographic reconstructions, we find that these two variants that arose during the second wave in Nigeria emerged from within Africa, with the B.1.525 from Nigeria, and then spread to other parts of the world. Data from this study show how regional connectivity of Nigeria drove the spread of these variants of interest to surrounding countries and those connected by air-traffic. Our findings demonstrate the power of genomic analysis when combined with mobility and epidemiological data to identify the drivers of transmission, as bidirectional transmission within and between African nations are grossly underestimated as seen in our import risk index estimates.
© 2023. The Author(s).