NGS-SA: Publications and pre-prints of our genomics surveillance work

Sampling bias and incorrect rooting make phylogenetic network tracing of SARS-COV-2 infections unreliable

Authors: Mavian C, Pond SK, Marini S, Magalis BR, Vandamme A-M, Dellicour S, Scarpino SV, Houldcroft C, Villabona-Arenas J, Paisie TK, Trov„o NS, Boucher C, Zhang Y, Scheuermann RH, Gascuel O, Lam TTY, Suchard MA, Abecasis A, Wilkinson E, de Oliveira T, Bento AI, Schmidt HA, Martin D, Hadfield J, Faria N, Grubaugh ND, Neher RA, Baele G, Lemey P, Stadler T, Albert J, Crandall KA, Leitner T, Stamatakis A, Prosperi M, Salemi M

Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 2020. DOI:


There is obvious interest in gaining insights into the epidemiology and evolution of the virus that has recently emerged in humans as the cause of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The recent paper by Forster et al. (1) analyzed 160 severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) full genomes available ( in early March 2020. The central claim is the identification of three main SARS-CoV-2 types, named A, B, and C, circulating in different proportions among Europeans and Americans (types A and C) and East Asians (type B). According to a median-joining network analysis, variant A is proposed to be the ancestral type because it links to the sequence of a coronavirus from bats, used as an outgroup to trace the ancestral origin of the human strains. The authors further suggest that the ďancestral Wuhan B-type virus is immunologically or environmentally adapted to a large section of the East Asian population, and may need to mutate to overcome resistance outside East Asia