Quantifying evolutionary change among viral genomes is an important clinical device to track critical adaptations geographically and temporally. We built image-based haplotype-guided evolutionary inference (ImHapE) to quantify adaptations in expanding populations of non-recombining SARS-CoV-2 genomes. By combining classic population genetic summaries with image-based deep learning methods, we show that different rates of positive selection are driving evolutionary fitness and dispersal of SARS-CoV-2 globally. A 1.35-fold increase in evolutionary fitness is observed within the UK, associated with expansion of both the B.1.177 and B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 lineages.
Ouellette, T. W.; Shaw, J.; Awadalla, P.