Genomic Epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 Divulge B.1, B.1.36, and B.1.1.7 as the Most Dominant Lineages in First, Second, and Third Wave of SARS-CoV-2 Infections in Pakistan
The present study aims to investigate the genomic variability and epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in Pakistan along with its role in the spread and severity of infection during the three waves of COVID-19. A total of 453 genomic sequences of Pakistani SARS-CoV-2 were retrieved from GISAID and subjected to MAFFT-based alignment and QC check which resulted in removal of 53 samples. The remaining 400 samples were subjected to Pangolin-based genomic lineage identification. And to infer our SARS-CoV-2
... e-scaled and divergence phylogenetic trees, 3804 selected global reference sequences plus 400 Pakistani samples were used for the Nextstrain analysis with Wuhan/Hu-1/2019, as reference genome. Finally, maximum likelihood based phylogenetic tree was built by using the Nextstrain and coverage map was created by employing Nextclade. By using the amino acid substitutions, the maximum likelihood phylogenetic trees were developed for each wave, separately. Our results reveal the circulation of 29 lineages, belonging to following seven clades G, GH, GR, GRY, L, O, and S in the three waves. From first wave, 16 genomic lineages of SARS-CoV-2 were identified with B.1(24.7%), B.1.36(18.8%), and B.1.471(18.8%) as the most prevalent lineages respectively. The second wave data showed 18 lineages, 10 of which were overlapping with the first wave suggesting that those variants could not be contained during the first wave. In this wave, a new lineage, AE.4, was reported from Pakistan for the very first time in the world. However, B.1.36 (17.8%), B.1.36.31 (11.9%), B.1.1.7 (8.5%), and B.1.1.1 (5.9%) were the major lineages in second wave. Third wave data showed the presence of nine lineages with Alpha/B.1.1.7 (72.7%), Beta/B.1.351 (12.99%), and Delta/B.1.617.2 (10.39%) as the most predominant variants. It is suggested that these VOCs should be contained at the earliest in order to prevent any devastating outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 in the country.