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Abstract

Background: The purpose of the study was to outline the genomic and epidemiological characteristics of COVID-19 in South Asian countries as well as the diagnosis, treatments, and prevention approaches undertaken by these countries to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: We searched electronic databases such as Google Scholar, PubMed, and Scopus as well as various national and international COVID-19 websites, WHO databases, and electronic media. 63 articles were included from databases and 34 articles from various other sources.

Results: Scientists observed genomic variations including common mutations in ORF1ab, ORF1a, ORF3a, and S genes, while several unique mutations exist in most isolates from these countries. Demographic analysis showed that the majority of infected individuals were male and younger adults (20 to 40 years). India had the highest number of deaths and incidents while Afghanistan had the highest fatality rate (4.37%). Various molecular assays including rRT-PCR, antigen and antibody-based assays have been developed and pre-existing treatments have been used to combat the pandemic. Although every country tried to implement imperative preventive measures along with vaccination drives, many of them still face grave repercussions due to impoverished health systems, underdeveloped infrastructures, and improvident government policies.

Conclusion: To our knowledge, this is the first review appraising various features of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 that persists in South Asia and strategies undertaken by the countries to tackle the disease. This review will facilitate timely interventions for future novel outbreaks in the region.

Keywords: COVID-19, South Asia, Genomic variations, Epidemiology, Diagnosis, Prevention

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