KARACHI: The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities of the healthcare system of Pakistan. When the pandemic emerged, the nation was in dire need of health facilities for the sixth largest population.
The National Institute of Virology, established in 2018 in collaboration with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (China), at the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi has played a significant role in the national fight against the ongoing pandemic by conducting more than 100,000 coronavirus tests in a few months and other services.
Prof. Dr. M. Iqbal Choudhary, Director of the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences, and COMSTECH Coordinator General expressed these views while presiding over a meeting held at the Dr. Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD) on Thursday.
Prof. Choudhary said that at this time of national need several academic and research institutions move forward to contribute to meeting the health challenge of unprecedented magnitude. The ICCBS, Pakistan’s premier academic research institute, was a forerunner in this national service, he observed.
Currently, the center crossed a staggering number of 150,000 PCR based tests and developed the capacity to conduct over 2,500 tests every day, largest in the country, he said, adding that Chief Minister of Sindh was personally monitoring the development of this superlab.
Talking about the importance of genome surveillance, Prof. Choudhary said that equally important in controlling of the pandemic was to monitor the changes occurring in this SARS-CoV-2 virus. This nationwide genome surveillance was conducted at the Jamil ur Rahman Center for Genomics at the ICCBS, he said.
About 77 full genomes of SARS-CoV-2 virus were sequenced and globally reported from the genome center of the ICCBS, he said, adding that so far 350 genetic mutations have been identified by the center. The mentioned that researchers at the Dr. Panjwani Center were engaged in high-quality research work on various aspects of pandemic and its treatment