SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern (VOC) Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron coincident with consecutive pandemic waves in Pakistan [article]

Asghar Nasir, Uzma Bashir Aamir, Akbar Kanji, Azra Samreen, Zeeshan Ansar, Najia K. Ghanchi, Ali Raza Bukhari, Kiran Iqbal Masood, Nazneen Islam, Samina Ghani, M. Asif Syed, Mansoor Wassan (+2 others)
2022 medRxiv   pre-print
AbstractIdentification and monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern/Interest (VOC/VOIs) is essential to guide public health measures. We report the surveillance of VOCs circulating in Karachi during the pandemic between April 2021 and February 2022. We screened 2150 SARS-CoV-2 PCR positive samples received at the AKUH Clinical Laboratories. VOC was identified using a PCR-based approach targeting lineage-specific mutations using commercially available assays. Of the SARS-CoV-2 PCR positive
more » ... mples, 81.7% had VOC/VOI, while 18.3% were undetermined. Alpha variants were predominant at 82.5% and 40.3% of the cases in April and May 2021. Beta variants increased in May (29%) and June (42%) and then reduced to 6% by July. Gamma variant cases were at 14.5% and 9% in May and June, respectively. Delta variants first detected in May, increased to comprise 66% of all variants by July, remaining dominant in August, September, October, and November 2021 at 88%, 91%, 91% and 85% respectively. Omicron (BA.1) variants emerged in December, rising to 42% of cases with an increase to 81% by January 2022 and then reducing to 45% in February 2022. Delta variant prevalence was coincident with increased hospital admissions and mortality. The Omicron variant surge was associated with increased daily infections but limited COVID-19 severity. We highlight the predominance of the VOCs identified through a rapid PCR based approach. As this is important to inform a public health response, we propose that a mutation targeted approach can be a rapid, lower cost solution to aid tracking of known VOCs during pandemic waves.
doi:10.1101/2022.05.19.22275149 fatcat:3f5xn4o56jfi7lyy6xptb5b23e