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Published: 2023-12-02

Detection of SARS-CoV-2 variants among travelers crossing the northern international border checkpoint in Duhok province, Iraq

Department of Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy and Department of Biology, College of Science, University of Duhok, Iraq
Biology Department, College of Science, University of Duhok, Duhok, Iraq
Medical Laboratory Technology Department, College of Health and Medical Techniques-Shekhan, Duhok Polytechnic University, Duhok, Iraq
Preventive Health Affairs Directorate, Directorate General of Health, Duhok, Iraq
Department of Physiology, Biochemistry, and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Mosul, Mosul, Iraq; College of Nursing, The American University of Kurdistan, Duhok, Iraq
Department of Clinical Pharmacy, College of Pharmacy, University of Duhok, Duhok, Iraq.


Background: Variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been detected along with the worldwide COVID-19 transmission. Insufficient data exists regarding SARS-CoV-2 variants in Iraq, particularly concerning travelers at Iraqi border crossings. This study aimed to screen SARS-CoV-2 variants among individuals entering Iraq from Turkey through the Ibrahim Khalil international border checkpoint. 

Methods: A total of 116 (52 females, 64 males) COVID-19-positive cases from June 6, 2021, to July 30, 2021, were randomly selected from the Ibrahim Al-Khalil border crossing point between Turkey and Iraq. The patients were Iraqis tested positive for COVID-19 through nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swab collections. The confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 cases involved RNA extraction and real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), following the World Health Organization guidelines. All samples were subjected to variant detection using the reverse transcription RT-PCR method. The RNA was extracted using a Zybio nucleic acid extraction kit and the RT-PCR was conducted using SARS-CoV-2 S-gene mutation detection RT-PCR kit.

Results: In the 116 patients, we detected variants B.1.1.7, B.1.617.1.2, B.1.617.1.3, and Omicron sub-lineages (B.1.1.529, BA.1) at frequency rates of 13, 16, 45, and 36 cases, respectively. The highest prevalence rate was the delta variant among the tested subjects (38.8%) followed by the Omicron sub-lineages (B.1.1.529, BA.1) at 31%.

Conclusion: This finding, which is the first of its kind at the northern Iraqi border checkpoint, suggests that these two variants could be a source of COVID-19 circulating in the Duhok province in Iraq. Additional studies are warranted across the country’s border entry points.


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How to Cite

Ghazwan Mohammed Raouf G, Qader M, Abdullah I, Younis O, Mohammad F, Merza M. Detection of SARS-CoV-2 variants among travelers crossing the northern international border checkpoint in Duhok province, Iraq . jidhealth [Internet]. 2023 Dec. 2 [cited 2024 Feb. 23];6(4):971-04. Available from: