Document Type : Original Article
Medical Laboratory Science Department College of Medicals and Applied Sciences Charmo University 46023 Chamchamal/ Sulaimani
The COVID-19 is an on-going viral pandemic that has been affecting the public health, routine life and global economy. The disease is caused by a novel strain of coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2 virus. The COVID-19 outbreak has been reporting in Kurdistan region of Iraq since March 2020. However, few studies investigated the epidemiology of COVID-19 and SARS CoV-2 virus in the region. This study aims at investigating the epidemiological situations of COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 variants in Kurdistan region over a year of the pandemic. The results revealed that the prevalence of COVID-19 is 1.9% in the region and is still in parallel to the neighbouring countries and the entire world. The mortality is 59 per 100,000 populations that may be related with age, as 25 % of the patients are older than 50 years old, and underlying health conditions of the patients might be another reason. Meanwhile, the recovery rate is high (90.5%), suggesting a standard medical management of COVID-19 in the region. It was observed that males comprise the greater number of COVID-19 patients. Like other countries, Kurdistan region passed through two waves of COVID-19 and currently tackling the third wave. On the other hand, the investigated spike proteins of nine isolates of SARS-CoV-2 in Kurdistan showed five isolates with single (D614G) mutation and four isolates with multiple amino acid substitutions (A348S, T478K and D614G), (L452R, E583D and D614G) and (N501Y, A570D and D614G), of which A348S, L452R and T478K and N501Y are in the receptor binding domain (RBD). Interestingly, all the isolates in Kurdistan contained D614G mutation. The D614G mutation alone and in combination with other mutations makes the SARS-CoV-2 virus more infectious and transmissible, so virulent variants of the virus is currently circulating and might be the cause of third wave of COVID-19 in Kurdistan region. The detection of N501Y and A570D mutations indicate the circulation of the UK variant of concern in Kurdistan region. Moreover, the results showed that the altered amino acids (A348S, L452R and T478K and N501Y) in the RBD of spike protein are located in the predicted B-cell epitopes. This could possibly reduce the sensitivity of some neutralizing antibodies, produced after infection with the previous variants or after vaccination. This and future investigations of COVID-19 epidemiology and SARS-CoV-2 variants definitely provide insights to the Kurdistan health officials to evaluate, control and predict the course of COVID-19 pandemic and to order the right version of vaccine.
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