National Reference Laboratory to provide genomic sequencing capacity for COVID-19 in Africa

National Reference Laboratory to provide genomic sequencing capacity for COVID-19 in Africa

The National Reference Laboratory (NRL) has been selected as one of 12 laboratories in Africa that will provide genomic sequencing capacity for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the continent.


Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), disclosed this to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Abuja.


The COVID-19 genome sequencing laboratory network was launched in several African countries, including Nigeria, by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Africa Centre for Disease Control (ACDC).


The two organisations maintained that the network of laboratories had been established to reinforce genome sequencing of the virus on the continent.


Ihekweazu said that the partnership, anchored by ACDC and WHO, was important in determining the response to various SARS-CoV-2 strains and in helping countries to manage localised or imported transmission.


“Genomic sequencing provides better understanding of the pandemic through more precise identification of transmission clusters,’’ he said.


Ihekweazu said that over the last four years, efforts were made to strengthen the research functions of the NCDC National Reference Laboratory.


He said that the research functions included genetic sequencing capacity and bio-banking, among others.


“We are proud that we can now use this capacity, not only serve Nigerians but also to support neighbouring countries in West Africa,” he said.


Ihekweazu thanked ACDC and WHO for their sustained support for NCDC.


Ihekweazu said that the agency was committed to working together with other agencies for the benefit of the region.


The laboratories selected for the project will henceforth provide capacity for genomic sequencing of Coronavirus and not just molecular detection of the virus.

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