A collaboration of scientists from two partner institutions from scientific Center of Excellence for Viral Immunology and Vaccines (CERVirVac), Ivan-Christian Kurolt from University Hospital for Infectious Diseases "Dr. Fran Mihaljević" and Anamarija Slović and Jelena Ivančić Jelečki from University of Zagreb, Centre for Research and Knowledge Transfer in Biotechnology, led to determination of complete genomic sequences of SARS-CoV-2 (the causative agent of COVID-19) from clinical samples collected in six Croatian cities (Pula, Koprivnica, Varaždin, Dubrovnik, Split and Osijek). This research is a part of a large European molecular epidemiology study of spread and evolution of SARS-CoV-2. Clinical samples received from Irena Tabain and Tatjana Vilibić Čavlek from Croatian Institute of Public Health were also included in the research.
The obtained results show genomic diversity of SARS-CoV-2 strains that have been circulating in Croatia in the last few months. Analysed viruses belong to different subgroups of viral lineage B.
Complete viral genomic sequences were obtained by next generation sequencing methodology, with a protocol established at the Centre for Research and Knowledge Transfer in Biotechnology and using various bioinformatics tools. Sequences have been submitted to GISAID, the world's largest repository of SARS-CoV-2 genomic data.
The global collecting of data regarding molecular evolution of SARS-CoV-2 is one of the prerequisites for design of new diagnostic tests and it directs scientific efforts in the research of antiviral medicines and development of vaccines efficacious against this pandemic disease.