The evolving SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in Africa: Insights from rapidly expanding genomic surveillance

Tegally H, San JE, Cotten M, Tegomoh B, Mboowa G, Martin DP, Baxter C, Moir M, Lambisia A, Diallo A, Amoako DG, Diagne MM, Sisay A, Zekri A-RN, Barakat A, Gueye A-S, Sangare AK, Ouedraogo A-S, Sow A, Musa AO, ..., Huddleston J, ..., Bedford T, ..., Ramphal Y, Bediako Y, Naidoo Y, Butera Y, de Laurent ZR, Ouma AEO, von Gottberg A, Githinji G, Moeti M, Tomori O, Sabeti PC, Sall AA, Oyola SO, Tebeje YK, Tessema SK, de Oliveira T, Happi C, Lessells R, Nkengasong J, Wilkinson E (395 authors). 2022. medRxiv: 2022.04.17.22273906.

Abstract

Investment in Africa over the past year with regards to SARS-CoV-2 genotyping has led to a massive increase in the number of sequences, exceeding 100,000 genomes generated to track the pandemic on the continent. Our results show an increase in the number of African countries able to sequence within their own borders, coupled with a decrease in sequencing turnaround time. Findings from this genomic surveillance underscores the heterogeneous nature of the pandemic but we observe repeated dissemination of SARS-CoV-2 variants within the continent. Sustained investment for genomic surveillance in Africa is needed as the virus continues to evolve, particularly in the low vaccination landscape. These investments are very crucial for preparedness and response for future pathogen outbreaks.