Russian version of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is genetically close to the European version

Russian version of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2

The Russian version of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is genetically close to the European.


Scientists from the St. Petersburg Smorodintsev Institute of Influenza first sequenced the genome for the Russian variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and found that, on the whole, it differs little from the original Chinese variants, but is genetically closest to European viruses.


The new coronavirus is 80 percent genetically similar to the SARS-CoV causative agent of SARS, which caused the epidemic in 2003, while it, like other viruses, is constantly evolving. During the time that has elapsed since the outbreak, several dozen genetic variants have already appeared (you can see the genealogical tree of the virus on the GISAID website ), although all of these variants are not too different from each other.

A few days ago, the Influenza Institute announced that scientists received the first complete genome of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus from samples taken from a patient from Russia.

Genomic epidemiology of Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus.
Coronavirus was distinguished into two subtypes: the most common L (70%) and S (30%).

According to Andrey Komissarov, RNA of the virus was isolated on March 15 in St. Petersburg from a nasopharyngeal smear taken from a thirty year old woman. It took a few more days to double-check and "reassemble" the genome: colleagues from the Center for Bioinformatics and Algorithmic Biotechnology of St. Petersburg State University helped.

"We found five non-synonymous replacements in the genome compared to the Chinese variant, this is quite a bit," said Komissarov. In his opinion, it is unlikely that the differences found will be able to change the virus so seriously that it will require a change in approaches to vaccine development.

  • The scientists intend to create a Russian consortium for sequencing viruses SARS-CoV-2 and invite other scientific organizations working in the field of NGS to participate.

In turn, an employee of the Institute for Information Transmission Problems Georgy Bazykin, together with his colleagues, analyzed the features of the Russian strain. 

By his genetic characteristics, he says , the Russian virus "is located inside a large, predominantly European treasure, with a large number of basal European sequences." Komissarov also confirmed his words: "Yes, he is grouping with the European sequences.