Substitution spectra of SARS-CoV-2 genome from Pakistan reveals insights into the evolution of variants across the pandemic

Javaria Ashraf, Sayed Ali Raza Shah Bukhari, Akbar Kanji, Tulaib Iqbal, Maliha Yameen, Muhammad Imran Nisar, Waqasuddin Khan, Zahra Hasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Changing morbidity and mortality due to COVID-19 across the pandemic has been linked with factors such as the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants and vaccination. Mutations in the Spike glycoprotein enhanced viral transmission and virulence. We investigated whether SARS-CoV-2 mutation rates and entropy were associated COVID-19 in Pakistan, before and after the introduction of vaccinations. We analyzed 1,705 SARS-CoV-2 genomes using the Augur phylogenetic pipeline. Substitution rates and entropy across the genome, and in the Spike glycoprotein were compared between 2020, 2021 and 2022 (as periods A, B and C). Mortality was greatest in B whilst cases were highest during C. In period A, G clades were predominant, and substitution rate was 5.25 × 10–4 per site per year. In B, Delta variants dominated, and substitution rates increased to 9.74 × 10–4. In C, Omicron variants led to substitution rates of 5.02 × 10–4. Genome-wide entropy was the highest during B particularly, at Spike E484K and K417N. During C, genome-wide mutations increased whilst entropy was reduced. Enhanced SARS-CoV-2 genome substitution rates were associated with a period when more virulent SARS-CoV-2 variants were prevalent. Reduced substitution rates and stabilization of genome entropy was subsequently evident when vaccinations were introduced. Whole genome entropy analysis can help predict virus evolution to guide public health interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20955
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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