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Genome sequencing study finds GR strain of SARS-CoV-2 virus to be most common in Oman

16 Sep 2020

A study on the full-genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 in the sultanate has found that the GR strain, which is currently the most prevalent strain in the world, is also the widespread strain in Oman. 

The team doing the research also observed that along with the GR strain, there are other strains with a lower prevalence rate – such as GH, O and V. 

‘The research finding proved that the widespread strain in the sultanate is modified and has D614G mutation, more than 90 per cent, where studies have proved that it is responsible for accelerating the disease spread and infection,’ stated the Ministry of Health (MoH). 

A team of researchers from the MoH’s Central Public Health Laboratories and the Epidemiological Surveillance Department of the Directorate General of Diseases Control and Surveillance along with Natural and Medical Sciences Research Centre at University of Nizwa has revealed results of studying the full-genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19. 

The results have been concluded through a joint research project that involved the study of DNA and linking it to epidemiological data of COVID-19 cases all over the sultanate’s governorates.

The project aims at understanding the relationship among the prevalent strains in the sultanate and connecting them with the epidemiological data identified by the MoH’s Epidemiological Surveillance team during the pandemic in addition to monitoring the possibility of genotyping conversion in virus strains and their effect on the change of virus’ behaviour and intensity.

Moreover, identifying the prevalent strains in the sultanate and detecting mutations would facilitate the process of selecting the appropriate vaccine and antiretroviral drugs, in addition to allowing the use of Computational Biology to search for appropriate drugs and their compatibility with the targeted link points in the virus.

The study included 94 samples of COVID-19 registered cases in the sultanate from different places that reported  prevalence of the disease; taking into consideration many variables related to age group, nationalities, severity of illness, infection date, places of travel and residence, and others. This has contributed in submitting enriching findings and concluding a clear abstract. 

The research team has read and analysed the genome sequencing of the samples utilising state-of-art techniques available at the genome lab in Nizwa University’s Natural and Medical Sciences Research Centre. The full-genome sequencing of the study’s samples were deposited in the global database (GISAID) that is designed for this purpose to provide an open access for researchers worldwide and help them understand how the virus evolves and spreads in community, and confirms sources of infection. 

The project observed a considerable compatibility between the virus’ genome sequencing and the epidemiological data of prevalent cases. 

The findings will be published in a detailed scientific paper in one of the scientific journals after re-evaluation. 

The two research teams value the financial support received from the University of Nizwa to cover project costs.

The number of full-genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 virus samples that were successfully deposited by the sultanate in GISAID reached 203 samples, which reflects the potential of the qualified Omani capacity as well as the availability of the most advanced techniques in gene sequencing in the country. 

The study team included scientists, researchers and Omani doctors from MoH and the University of Nizwa. Headed by Dr Saif Salim al Abri, the team of researchers from the MoH included Dr Samira Hamad al Mahrooqi, Dr Amina Khalfan al Jardani, Dr Samiha Rashid al Kharousi, Dr Hanan Salim al Kindi and Dr Adil Saeed al Wahaibi.

Headed by Prof Ahmed al Harasi, the research team from the University of Nizwa were Dr Abdul Latif Khan, Dr Sajad Asef, Dr Majed al Salmani and Ahmed al Rawahi. 



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