Objectives We assessed the effort deployed by different nations and territories to sequence SARS-CoV-2 isolates, thus allowing the detection of variants, known and novel, of concern. Design We analyzed the sources of over one million full genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2 virus available in the COVID-19 virus Mutation Tracker (CovMT) to determine the number of variants in the RBD region of the genome determining infectivity detected in the various nations and territories. Results The number of variants detected increased as the square root of sequencing effort of sequencing effort by nations. Eight nations contributed 79% of all SARS-CoV-2 isolates sequenced, with 2/3’s of all unique variants, adding to 1118 RBD variants, reported by 5 nations. The median number of isolates sequenced required to detect, on average, one novel RBD variant is 24.05, a threshold only achieved by 70 nations. Conclusions Many developing nations have not contributed any sequences due to lack of capacity, with a risk of dangerous virus variants in these undersampled regions spreading globally before being detected. A collaborative program to sequence SARS-CoV-2 isolates, and other pathogens of concern, is needed to monitor, track and control the pandemic.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-06-21
Acknowledgements: This research was funded by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology through funding provided to CMD and TG.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases
- Microbiology (medical)