Health and Fitness

Genomic characterization of the circulating SARS-CoV-2 lineages in Papua New Guinea

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of the coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19), has contaminated round 2.7 million people and resulted in roughly 40,000 deaths within the Western Pacific area.

Study: Genomic Characterisation Reveals a Dominant Lineage of SARS-CoV-2 in Papua New Guinea. Image Credit: REC Stock Footage/Shutterstock
Study: Genomic Characterisation Reveals a Dominant Lineage of SARS-CoV-2 in Papua New Guinea. Image Credit: REC Stock Footage/Shutterstock


Papua New Guinea (PNG), with a inhabitants of 8.8 million (87% dwelling in rural areas), skilled the primary wave of COVID-19 in April 2020, which was promptly managed by August 2020. However, the nation skilled a surge in instances ensuing within the second wave of SARS-CoV-2 an infection, with almost 177,774 confirmed instances by July finish.

The whole variety of instances soared by October 2021. Due to logistic challenges, testing for SARS-CoV-2 an infection, epidemiological investigations, and illness surveillance had been hampered within the nation, impacting the implementation of public well being measures to manage the illness unfold.

After ample pathological, immunological, and epidemiological proof, a PANGO lineage of SARS-CoV-2 was marked as a variant of concern (VOC) by the native or worldwide our bodies. Currently, 4 lineages of SARS-CoV-2 have been categorised as VOC by the World Health Organization (WHO), displaying an exceptionally excessive variety of mutations leading to immune evasion and excessive transmissibility.

Genomic surveillance has now been deemed a mandate to manage and handle the pandemic by detecting and figuring out new rising variants, outbreaks, and illness transmission, thereby permitting acceptable public well being interventions to manage the unfold of illness.

The examine

A latest examine printed within the journal Virus Evolution characterised the SARS-CoV-2 lineages circulating in Papua New Guinea through the second wave of COVID-19, described the distinctive genomic dataset within the area, and examined the sudden progress of an ill-defined however prevalent lineage of SARS-CoV-2 within the Western Pacific area.

For this examine, a routine genomic system of SARS-CoV-2 from PNG was established. Phylodynamic and phylogenetic evaluation of the sequences generated from SARS-CoV-2 contaminated people was performed.


Out of the overall sequenced SARS-CoV-2 constructive samples, 1,797 samples met the interior high quality management (QC) measures, and 1,672 samples had been linked efficiently to PNG NCC and the Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) epidemiological metadata.

PANGO lineage task of 1,797 PNG samples was extremely unstable with fixed shifts between three extremely linked lineages – AU/B.1.466/B.1.459. Samples wanted frequent reassignments between these teams no matter sequence high quality or genome protection.

Out of the overall PNG sequences, 88% belonged to extremely associated B.1.459, B.1.466.2, AU.1, or AU.3 lineages related to the Southeast Asian and Pacific area. Additionally, 5 % of the sequences had been typed as B.6/B.6.B lineages, and a pair of.4% of the sequences belonged to B or B.1 lineages. Meanwhile, just one pattern was recognized as a VOC (Delta- B.1.617.2).

Phylogenetic evaluation confirmed 5 broad clusters with an intermingling of B.1, B.1.466.2, B.1.459, and AU lineages inside the clusters and carefully associated samples typed as PANGO lineages. Analysis of the temporal distribution revealed a shift from B.6.8/B.6 lineages within the mid-2020 to B.1 and B.1.459/B.1.466.2/AU lineages early in 2021. Samples from 2020 didn’t document some other lineage.

Geographically various clusters had been recognized, with every cluster being concentrated in a specific PNG space. ‘Cluster 2’ – the most important cluster, was related to the Western Province and OTML mines, whereas the smaller clusters had been linked to the island of New Britain, the National Capital District, along with the bigger surrounding provinces or a diffusion to New Britain from the highland provinces.

The accessible genomic information estimated the introduction of 55 occasions within the PNG, out of which solely three consisted of a single case with none proof of transmission. Importantly, consistency with the broad genomic clusters was recognized with the importation clusters. Twenty-four importation genomic clusters with at the least 5 sequences had been discovered (the most important having 926 sequences).

The first importation genomic cluster with a minimal of 5 genomes was detected between July 2020 and March 2021. It was estimated that between February 2020 and March 2021, importation genome clusters with at the least 5 genomes had been launched. Most importation occasions had been estimated to have occurred round March 2021.

Overall, 90% of the genome clusters consisted of PANGO lineages B.1.459, B.1.466.2.3 (AU.3), and B.1.466.2.1 (AU.1) with 256, 198, and 387 genomes, respectively.

The use of a coalescent framework for the 4 largest importation genomic clusters estimated an identical coalescent progress price amongst clusters – with proof of epidemic progress in all clusters. The doubling time of the genomic importation clusters overlapped with a doubling time of 9 days for the most important importation cluster (Cluster A) and a doubling time of eight days for the smallest cluster (cluster B).

The sampling depth was beneath 0.02 and was unsure, with cluster A having the best sampling depth (0.011). These estimates counsel the genomic sampling represents a really small outbreak proportion for every importation cluster.


The outcomes revealed a number of new introductions along with a fast growth of B.1.466.2 and the associated lineages in Papua New Guinea. Moreover, the findings underscored difficulties attributable to unstable lineage assignments when genomics is used to outline fast clusters.

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