Genetic diversity and genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in Morocco

Biosaf Health. 2021 Apr;3(2):124-127. doi: 10.1016/j.bsheal.2021.01.003. Epub 2021 Feb 3.


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), declared as a pandemic due to its rapid spread worldwide. In this study, we investigate the genetic diversity and genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2, using 22 virus genome sequences reported by three different laboratories in Morocco till June 7,2020, as well as 40,366 virus genomes from all around the world. The SARS-CoV-2 genomes from Moroccan patients revealed 62 mutations, of which 30 were mis-sense mutations. The mutations Spike_D614G and NSP12_P323L were present in all the 22 analyzed sequences, followed by N_G204R and N_R203K, which occurred in 9 among the 22 sequences. The mutations NSP10_R134S, NSP15_D335N, NSP16_I169L, NSP3_L431H, NSP3_P1292L and Spike_V6F occurred once in Moroccan sequences, with no record in other sequences worldwide. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that Moroccan SARS-CoV-2 genomes included 9 viruses belonging to Clade 20A, 9 to Clade 20B and 2 to Clade 20C, suggesting that the epidemic spread in Morocco did not display a predominant SARS-CoV-2 route. Therefore, multiple and unrelated introductions of SARS-CoV-2 into Morocco through different routes have occurred, giving rise to the diversity of virus genomes in the country. Further, in all probability, the SARS-CoV-2 circulated in a cryptic way in Morocco, starting from January 15, 2020 before the first case was officially discovered on March 2, 2020.

Keywords: Genetic diversity; Genomic epidemiology; Morocco; SARS-CoV-2.