Omani researchers analyse COVID-19 gene sequencing

Muscat: A team of researchers from the Central Public Health Laboratories of the Ministry of Health (MOH) and from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) has reached initial results of analyzing the full-genome sequencing of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The analysis has been included within the global data of the virus strains of each country in the world to understand how the virus is spread and the difference of its mutation.

At which, 49 viral strains have been analyzed for the first diagnosed cases in the Sultanate. The analysis of this full-genome sequencing contributes to study the epidemiological situation and how the disease spreads in the Sultanate. It helps the public health workers to know the required interventions to control and curb the spread of the epidemic, as well as determines the gene mutation that may increase the severity of the disease. Furthermore, the analysis helps to identify the accuracy of genetic tests per strains, which contributes effectively to detect the possible treatments and vaccines by conducting more scientific research and in-depth studies.

The researchers observed that there is genetic diversity in the strains dispersed in the Sultanate, which is expected due to the multiple sources of the virus. It has been proved that the virus entered the Sultanate from many countries and the genotype, which was detected during the first months, was multi strains derived from the main strain (B) and belongs to subcategories O, V, L, S, G, RG, and HG. With the spread of the disease, it has been observed the sovereignty of certain strains like G and GH, particularly GR, which is responsible for the local transmission.

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The research team includes Dr Samira al Mahrouqi, Medical Laboratories Specialist in the MOH Central Public Health Laboratories and Dr Fahad bin Mahmoud al -Zedjali, SQU Assistant Dean of Scientific Research as the main researchers of the project along with a group of Omani technicians and doctors specialized in microbiology and infectious diseases from MOH and SQU.

Analyzing the initial results is the first phase of this project, which will be followed by a series of accurate research of which results will be revealed respectively. The study will cover the genetic strains, the clinical situation of the disease and its association with travel and death.

SQU Medical Research Center and the Research Council are the financiers of this joint research. The MOH Central Public Health Laboratories is the reference center for diagnosing COVID-19 cases, which was adopted by the WHO as a reference laboratory for the Middle East countries for COVID-19 tests.

The laboratories of the SQU and the Sultan Qaboos University Hospital have up-to-date diagnostic techniques in gene sequencing reinforced with Omani qualified cadres specialized in this field. –ONA

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