95 research outputs found

    The evolving SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in Africa: Insights from rapidly expanding genomic surveillance

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    INTRODUCTION Investment in Africa over the past year with regard to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) sequencing has led to a massive increase in the number of sequences, which, to date, exceeds 100,000 sequences generated to track the pandemic on the continent. These sequences have profoundly affected how public health officials in Africa have navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. RATIONALE We demonstrate how the first 100,000 SARS-CoV-2 sequences from Africa have helped monitor the epidemic on the continent, how genomic surveillance expanded over the course of the pandemic, and how we adapted our sequencing methods to deal with an evolving virus. Finally, we also examine how viral lineages have spread across the continent in a phylogeographic framework to gain insights into the underlying temporal and spatial transmission dynamics for several variants of concern (VOCs). RESULTS Our results indicate that the number of countries in Africa that can sequence the virus within their own borders is growing and that this is coupled with a shorter turnaround time from the time of sampling to sequence submission. Ongoing evolution necessitated the continual updating of primer sets, and, as a result, eight primer sets were designed in tandem with viral evolution and used to ensure effective sequencing of the virus. The pandemic unfolded through multiple waves of infection that were each driven by distinct genetic lineages, with B.1-like ancestral strains associated with the first pandemic wave of infections in 2020. Successive waves on the continent were fueled by different VOCs, with Alpha and Beta cocirculating in distinct spatial patterns during the second wave and Delta and Omicron affecting the whole continent during the third and fourth waves, respectively. Phylogeographic reconstruction points toward distinct differences in viral importation and exportation patterns associated with the Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron variants and subvariants, when considering both Africa versus the rest of the world and viral dissemination within the continent. Our epidemiological and phylogenetic inferences therefore underscore the heterogeneous nature of the pandemic on the continent and highlight key insights and challenges, for instance, recognizing the limitations of low testing proportions. We also highlight the early warning capacity that genomic surveillance in Africa has had for the rest of the world with the detection of new lineages and variants, the most recent being the characterization of various Omicron subvariants. CONCLUSION Sustained investment for diagnostics and genomic surveillance in Africa is needed as the virus continues to evolve. This is important not only to help combat SARS-CoV-2 on the continent but also because it can be used as a platform to help address the many emerging and reemerging infectious disease threats in Africa. In particular, capacity building for local sequencing within countries or within the continent should be prioritized because this is generally associated with shorter turnaround times, providing the most benefit to local public health authorities tasked with pandemic response and mitigation and allowing for the fastest reaction to localized outbreaks. These investments are crucial for pandemic preparedness and response and will serve the health of the continent well into the 21st century

    The evolving SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in Africa: Insights from rapidly expanding genomic surveillance.

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    Investment in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) sequencing in Africa over the past year has led to a major increase in the number of sequences that have been generated and used to track the pandemic on the continent, a number that now exceeds 100,000 genomes. Our results show an increase in the number of African countries that are able to sequence domestically and highlight that local sequencing enables faster turnaround times and more-regular routine surveillance. Despite limitations of low testing proportions, findings from this genomic surveillance study underscore the heterogeneous nature of the pandemic and illuminate the distinct dispersal dynamics of variants of concern-particularly Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron-on the continent. Sustained investment for diagnostics and genomic surveillance in Africa is needed as the virus continues to evolve while the continent faces many emerging and reemerging infectious disease threats. These investments are crucial for pandemic preparedness and response and will serve the health of the continent well into the 21st century

    Heterogeneous contributions of change in population distribution of body mass index to change in obesity and underweight

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    From 1985 to 2016, the prevalence of underweight decreased, and that of obesity and severe obesity increased, in most regions, with significant variation in the magnitude of these changes across regions. We investigated how much change in mean body mass index (BMI) explains changes in the prevalence of underweight, obesity, and severe obesity in different regions using data from 2896 population-based studies with 187 million participants. Changes in the prevalence of underweight and total obesity, and to a lesser extent severe obesity, are largely driven by shifts in the distribution of BMI, with smaller contributions from changes in the shape of the distribution. In East and Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, the underweight tail of the BMI distribution was left behind as the distribution shifted. There is a need for policies that address all forms of malnutrition by making healthy foods accessible and affordable, while restricting unhealthy foods through fiscal and regulatory restrictions

    Heterogeneous contributions of change in population distribution of body mass index to change in obesity and underweight