Main advantage of monitoring an epidemic in real time is the possibility to identify the source and act to reduce the spread
The genome of the new coronavirus from a sample collected from the first patient diagnosed in Brazil is different from the genome of the second patient who was confirmed for the disease in the country. In addition, they are different from the sequencing done on patients in China. This is what confirmed the research carried out by scientists at the Adolf Lutz Institute in partnership with the Tropical Institute at the University of São Paulo (USP), with support from the São Paulo State Research Support Foundation (Fapesp). This would indicate, according to the researchers, that internal transmission is taking place in European countries.
“The first isolate proved to be genetically more similar to the virus sequenced in Germany. This second genome is more similar to that sequenced in England. And both are different from Chinese sequences. This fact suggests that the coronavirus epidemic is maturing in Europe, that is, internal transmission is already occurring in European countries. For a more accurate analysis, however, we need data from Italy, which has not yet been sequenced, ”said Ester Sabino, director of USP’s Institute of Tropical Medicine (IMT), in an interview with the foundation that supports the research.
The first case of the new coronavirus in a resident of Brazil was identified on February 26. Two days after confirmation, the researchers were able to carry out the first genetic sequencing of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Latin America. The second case of the new coronavirus in Brazil was confirmed on February 29. Both patients are residents of São Paulo, but have recently been to Italy.
According to Fapesp, the complete sequencing of the second isolated viral case was completed in 24 hours. The study data will be released soon. The work has been conducted with support from the Joint Brazil-UK Center for Arbovirus Discovery, Diagnosis, Genomics and Epidemiology (Cadde) – a network of researchers dedicated to responding and analyzing epidemic data in real time.
To do the sequencing, with real-time monitoring, the group makes use of a portable device known as MinION, used for the first time in the country in 2016 to map the evolution of the Zika virus. According to Sabino, the main advantage of monitoring an epidemic in real time is the possibility of identifying where exactly the virus that arrived in the country came from, which helps to promote actions to reduce the spread of the disease.
Claudio Tavares Sacchi, responsible for the Strategic Laboratory of the Adolfo Lutz Institute, said that the intention is to sequence the genomes of the viruses in all cases that are confirmed in the country. But if positive cases start to multiply on a large scale, the work will be guided by the Epidemiological Surveillance Center (CVE) of the State Department of Health, which is also part of the Cadde Project. “In this case, the sequencing will be done by sampling and based on statistical methods, in order to ensure that the sampled cases are representative of the total,” said the researcher.