The emerging GII.P16-GII.4 Sydney 2012 norovirus lineage is circulating worldwide, arose by late-2014 and contains polymerase changes that may increase virus transmission
Noroviruses are a leading cause of human gastroenteritis worldwide. The norovirus genotype GII.4 is the most prevalent genotype in the human population and has caused six pandemics since 1995. A novel norovirus lineage containing the GII.P16 polymerase and pandemic GII.4 Sydney 2012 capsid was recently detected in Asia and Germany. We demonstrate that this lineage is also circulating within the UK and USA and has been circulating since October 2014 or earlier. While the lineage does not contain unique substitutions in the capsid, it does contain polymerase substitutions close to positions known to influence polymerase function and virus transmission. These polymerase substitutions are shared with a GII.P16-GII.2 virus that dominated outbreaks in Germany in Winter 2016. We suggest that the substitutions in the polymerase may have resulted in a more transmissible virus and the combination of this polymerase and the pandemic GII.4 capsid may result in a highly transmissible virus. Further surveillance efforts will be required to determine whether the GII.P16-GII.4 Sydney 2012 lineage increases in frequency over the coming months.