• G6PD distribution in sub-Saharan Africa and potential risks of using chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine based treatments for COVID-19

      da Rocha, Jorge E B; Othman, Houcemeddine; Tiemessen, Caroline T; Botha, Gerrit; Ramsay, Michèle; Masimirembwa, Collen; Adebamowo, Clement; Choudhury, Ananyo; Brandenburg, Jean-Tristan; Matshaba, Mogomotsi; et al. (Springer Nature, 2021-07-23)
      Chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine have been proposed as potential treatments for COVID-19. These drugs have warning labels for use in individuals with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. Analysis of whole genome sequence data of 458 individuals from sub-Saharan Africa showed significant G6PD variation across the continent. We identified nine variants, of which four are potentially deleterious to G6PD function, and one (rs1050828) that is known to cause G6PD deficiency. We supplemented data for the rs1050828 variant with genotype array data from over 11,000 Africans. Although this variant is common in Africans overall, large allele frequency differences exist between sub-populations. African sub-populations in the same country can show significant differences in allele frequency (e.g. 16.0% in Tsonga vs 0.8% in Xhosa, both in South Africa, p = 2.4 × 10-3). The high prevalence of variants in the G6PD gene found in this analysis suggests that it may be a significant interaction factor in clinical trials of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 in Africans.