'COVID-19 Genomics - MENA': towards molecular surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 genomes during the vaccination period within the Middle East and North Africa


  • Prof Arnab Pain

    King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

  • Prof dr Ahmed Moustafa

    American University in Cairo, Egypt

  • Prof Fahd Al-Mulla

  • Prof Arnab Pain

    King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia


  • Dr Abdallah Musa Abdallah

  • Dr Hachid Aissam

    Institut Pasteur of Algeria, Algeria

Project summary

We propose to form a consortium of researchers representing the MENA region (‘COVID-19 Genomics MENA’) with access to COVID-19 samples for setting up sequencing and analytical pipelines for large-scale sequencing-based genomic surveillance of the circulating lineages of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The consortium will consist of investigators from four countries in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait) and three countries (Algeria, Morocco, and Egypt) in North Africa. The aim of this proposal is to sequence a large number of SARS-CoV-2 genomes for molecular tracking of the circulating lineages of the virus during the active vaccination period for the next 12 months. We pledge to sequence 12,000+ SARS-CoV-2 genomes and collect relevant clinical meta-datasets during the next 12 months in these seven countries in the MENA region. We shall be using a combination of next-generation sequencing technology platforms (Illumina, Oxford Nanopore, and Ion Torrent) and standard genome assembly, genomic-epidemiology analytical pipelines already available within the laboratories in the consortium. The resulting datasets will be made publicly available through the GISAID data portal for wider accessibility of the datasets. We also aim to integrate a ‘training component’ for local capacity building at the participating institutions in the MENA region.