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April 4, 2020

The coronavirus genome

Newspost

 
April 4, 2020

During last few days, some headlines regarding the dissimilarity of genomes of the coronavirus from Chinese and Pakistani patients have been published in newspapers. This information is technically flawed. Hundreds of coronavirus genomes have been sequenced globally and all of them showed 99.5 to 99.9 percent identity with the original Wuhan coronavirus. Until today, two coronavirus genome sequence datasets from Pakistan (ie NUST, Islamabad and ARID Rawalpindi) have been reported. Our bioinformatics analysis revealed that the coronavirus genome from Pakistani patients is 99.7 percent identical with the Wuhan coronavirus genome.

These findings clearly indicated that the coronavirus has low mutation rate. Hence without doing further experiments, it is impossible to state that the coronavirus in Pakistan (or in Karachi) is different from China. The scientific community must take caution when communicating technical aspects of the Covid-19 infection to the public.

Dr Kamran Azim

Director ORIC

Dean Faculty of Life Sciences

Mohammad Ali Jinnah University

Karachi