UAE company identifies Covid-19 virus sequence

A UAE-based company has identified the genomic source of the coronavirus pandemic

(FILES) An undated handout picture released by the University of Oxford on November 23, 2020 shows a technician working on the University's COVID-19 candidate vaccine, known as AZD1222, co-invented by the University of Oxford and Vaccitech in partnership with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.  Britain on December 30, 2020 became the first country in the world to approve the coronavirus vaccine developed by drug firm AstraZeneca and Oxford University, with a mass rollout planned from January 4, 2021. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD / John Cairns " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - RESTRICTED TO ILLUSTRATING STORIES RELATED TO THE PARTICULAR VACCINE, EVENTS AND FACTS MENTIONED IN THE CAPTION - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS 
 / AFP / University of Oxford / University of Oxford / John Cairns / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD / John Cairns " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - RESTRICTED TO ILLUSTRATING STORIES RELATED TO THE PARTICULAR VACCINE, EVENTS AND FACTS MENTIONED IN THE CAPTION - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

G42 Healthcare, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-based Group 42, has conducted a SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing study that identified the genomic source of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The study will help determine the spread and evolution patterns of the virus since the disease was first recorded in the UAE. The entire study will be published as scientific paper when the final stages of production are completed.

The study also provides additional insights for sustainable screening of the SARS-CoV-2 dynamics and will help the country better prepare for future outbreaks.

By analysing the effect of community infections on the spread of COVID-19 in the UAE, researchers can better understand the viral mutations and gain insights into the variants role in sustaining the pandemic despite the stringent control measures put in place by health authorities.

One of the key objectives of this longitudinal study is to assess the potential emergence of a more virulent subtype and its potential effect on the country’s infection control strategies as the pandemic progresses. This is particularly timely and important considering the new, more infectious strain of the virus discovered in the UK, underlining the role of predictive analysis and data in enhancing response to the pandemic.

The viral genome sequencing was performed on 1,067 nasopharyngeal swab samples collected in Abu Dhabi between May and June 2020, in accordance with the local regulation and under the guidance of the Department of Health (DoH), Abu Dhabi. The analysis revealed unique genetic variations specific to the UAE virus strains and the patterns of the virus’s introduction.

Results from this study will in turn translate into improvements in diagnostic accuracy and sensitivity. This might lead to re-designing of new PCR primers, that can be added into current primer pools, to target potential new viral mutations that might today be absent in imported kits currently on the market.

(FILES) An undated handout picture released by the University of Oxford on November 23, 2020 shows a technician working at the Jenner Institute on the University's COVID-19 candidate vaccine, known as AZD1222, co-invented by the University of Oxford and Vaccitech in partnership with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.  Britain on December 30, 2020 became the first country in the world to approve the coronavirus vaccine developed by drug firm AstraZeneca and Oxford University, with a mass rollout planned from January 4, 2021. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD / John Cairns " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - RESTRICTED TO ILLUSTRATING STORIES RELATED TO THE PARTICULAR VACCINE, EVENTS AND FACTS MENTIONED IN THE CAPTION - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS 
 / AFP / University of Oxford / University of Oxford / John Cairns / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD / John Cairns " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - RESTRICTED TO ILLUSTRATING STORIES RELATED TO THE PARTICULAR VACCINE, EVENTS AND FACTS MENTIONED IN THE CAPTION - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Ashish Koshy, CEO of G42 Healthcare, said: "For this study, we have capitalised on our strength of unparalleled genomics solutions, which is a key driver of the population genome program launched by G42 Healthcare in December 2019 under the guidance of the Department of Health, and that aims to create a reference genome specific to UAE citizens to enable a predictive, preventive and personalised healthcare system in the country.

"Our genomics technology and scalable expertise strongly support the UAE’s national genome project, while also underpinning our ground-breaking work during the pandemic, which has enabled us to create unmatched solutions that will change the face of the healthcare sector for the better."

epa08199489 A staffer works in the pop-up Huoyan Laboratory specialized in the nucleic acid test on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, 06 February 2020 (issued 07 February 2020). The P2-level biosafety lab was built in five days, designed to perform 10,000 coronavirus tests per day to cope with the outbreak. The virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has so far killed at least 638 people and infected over 31,000 others, mostly in China.  EPA/SHEPHERD ZHOU CHINA OUT

A key player in the race to find a solution to the global pandemic, G42 Healthcare provided the technology to generate relevant and insightful data for this study. Harnessing the power of AI and a well-established genomics lab, the project was furnished with short read sequencing technologies and the cloud computing resources required for the massive throughput of data.

G42 Healthcare is also the facilitator of the first Phase III trials of an inactivated vaccine for Covid-19 in the pan-Arab region, with over 43,000 volunteers from 125 nationalities participating in the trials that was launched in the UAE on 16 July 2020.

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