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COVID-19: Scientists - Let’s understand the virus first, then knock it off!

Oct. 5, 2022
COVID-19: Scientists - Let’s understand the virus first, then knock it off!
A snip from the SCIENCE journal which published Mpina and colleagues' recommendations on more studies about COVID-19 genetics. GRAPHIC | IFAKARA/KMC.

Ifakara Health Institute seasoned researcher, Maximillian Mpina, is among 403 scientists from across the globe pushing for more studies in Africa on the makeup of the Corona virus in order to understand how it’s formed. Mpina and colleagues believe that results from such studies can be useful to scientists developing diagnostic tools and treatment for COVID-19.

A scientific method used to study genes is technically known as “genomic sequencing” which is done inside a laboratory, and there are plenty of such labs in African that’s why Mpina and colleagues propose a strategic expansion of the technologies to contribute to on-going efforts to curb COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) and similar emerging and re-emerging variants.

These forward-thinking recommendations are contained in a recent publication which Mpina contributed to Science – a renowned journal which has been carrying research articles on cutting-edge and game-changer innovations globally since the 1880’s. The paper was published online on September 15, 2022.

The researchers write in their paper: “Sustained investment for diagnostics and genomic surveillance in Africa is needed as the virus continues to evolve, while the continent faces many emerging and re-emerging infectious disease threats. These investments are crucial for pandemic preparedness and response and will serve the health of the continent well into the 21st century.”

According to Mpina and team, there’s an urgent “need to update the SARS-CoV-2 sequencing primers as the virus evolves,” to be able to understand it more and be confident with any diagnostic and treatment options.

“In spite of the recent successful expansion of genomics surveillance in Africa, additional work remains necessary. 16 countries still do not have sequencing capacity within their own borders and their only option is to send samples to continental sequencing hubs or to centers outside of the continent, which increases the turnaround times and limits the utility of genomic surveillance for public health decision-making.”

What is Genomic Sequencing?
Genomic sequencing is a laboratory method that is used to determine the entire genetic makeup of a specific organism or cell type. This method can be used to find changes in areas of the genome. These changes may help scientists understand how specific diseases form. Results of genomic sequencing may also be used to diagnose and treat disease.

More about genetics
Genetics is the scientific study of genes and heredity—of how certain qualities or traits are passed from parents to offspring as a result of changes in DNA sequence. A gene is a segment of DNA that contains instructions for building one or more molecules that help the body work.

>> Full article: https://doi.org/10.1126/SCIENCE.ABQ5358  

Article title: “The evolving Covid-19 epidemic in Africa: Insights from rapidly expanding genomic surveillance.”