WANIDA > Projects > Molecular Epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in West African Countries

Molecular Epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in West African Countries: Sequencing and metagenomic analyses to monitor virus evolution and pathogenesis

Using a subset of respiratory samples from study participants across the WANIDA network, this proposal seeks to:

  1. Identify viral lineages/ clades and transmission networks across West Africa.
  2. Determine commonalities in host:virus interactions across the WANIDA countries

Expected outcomes:

This study will provide a timeline-stratified molecular identity of circulating SARS-CoV-2 across the West African countries, Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Guinea. This will allow an understanding of how the individual epidemics have evolved over time, as well as identify dominant highly transmissible clades across West African countries.

This study will also identify key polymorphisms in ACE-2 and TMPRSS2 and any other proteins whose expression at the respiratory interface may be altered upon SARS-CoV-2 infection. In addition, we expect that this study will give us insight into the expression profile in the different categories considered for the study thus providing information to guide therapeutics and vaccines.

WANIDA > Projects > Molecular Epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in West African Countries

The experience of SARS-CoV-2 in Africa, in particular West Africa, appears to deviate from what is observed elsewhere. Cases in the WANIDA countries mostly tend to be asymptomatic or mild. It is imperative to understand the biological underpinnings of these observations.

This knowledge would impact the potential effectiveness of therapeutics and vaccines especially in the region. One hypothesis is that this different presentation may be due to the differences in virus: host interactions in West African populations, driven partially by protein expression patterns in respiratory interfaces.

Two host proteins have already been implicated as being important for SARS-CoV-2 infection; angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2) and transmembrane Serine Protease 2 (TMPRSS2). It is important to detect polymorphisms in these proteins across our participants, as well as determine if there are any previously unidentified host proteins involved in SARS-CoV-2 infection. In particular, knowing the viral genotype as well as specific expression patterns at the virus: host interphase would aid in choosing which of the many vaccine candidates would elicit host responses that would effectively block those interactions.

This study would also highlight if there is a need to design a new candidate that may be more specific for West African COVID-19, as well as open up new avenues for targeted therapeutics. The need for a study of this nature is heightened by the spectre of the new circulating, highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants, P.1 (Brazil variant), B.1.1.7 (UK variant), and B1.351 (SA variant), which is also currently found in the region.

This study would provide insights on the level of these variants,transmission dynamics, how they change over the course of the sampling period and provide insights into their interactions with host proteins.

Involved partners:



  • Dr. Peter Quashie, WACCBIP
  • Dr. Onikepe Folarin, ACEGI

Finance : WANIDA et contributions des centre impliqués

For more information : Olivia Koupaki, WANIDA coordinator:

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