COVID-19 sampling and whole genome sequencing informs makeup of virus variants and affected populations in Bangladesh

Catherine Martini

Name: Catherine Martini
School: College of Dental Medicine, Class of 2024
Mentor: Sylvana Q. Sinha, Esq. (praava Health) and Kim Hekimian, PhD

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With the March 2021 surge of SARS-CoV-2, the Child Health Research Foundation (CHRF) began sequencing and contributing to the tracking of variants. In collaboration with Praava Health, CHRF has been able to collect and sequence COVID-19 samples from across the divisions of Bangladesh. The goal of this collaboration is to expand knowledge surrounding the strains of COVID-19 within Bangladesh in hopes to improve prevention processes. Samples were collected from Praava patients who received a positive COVID-19 test and whole genome sequencing was performed by CHRF. The data gathered from Praava Health’s collaboration has shed light on the various strains currently circulating in Bangladesh. The three variants of SARS-CoV-2 appearing in the sequencing include B.1.1.318, B.1.1.7,or B.1.351.3. Most of the mutations in these three variants arise in the ORF1abgene, the S gene, and the N gene. Although the variants seem to disproportionately occur in ages 18-29, the original samples were skewed towards this age group due to a reluctance of older age groups to give consent for the study. Future samples will continue to inform the COVID-19variants existing in Bangladesh.