Health Ministry acquiring second variant-testing machine, first yet to be used
The Health Ministry has engaged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to acquire a second genome sequencing machine.
A genome sequencing machine is used to determine the entire genetic makeup of a specific organism or cell type like those of the coronavirus.
In announcing the impending acquisition in Parliament on Tuesday, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton revealed that the first sequencer obtained in October has not yet been commissioned.
This is because of the lack of trained personnel to operate it.
As a result, COVID-19 samples are still being submitted to international labs to test for new variants.
Tufton said that some 49 samples have been sent to the Pan American Health Organisation for genome sequencing, 80 to the CDC and 20 to the Caribbean Public Health Agency headquartered in Trinidad and Tobago.
“There is a global demand for the training and the experts who are limited for the commissioning of this type of machine,” said Tufton.
Meanwhile, Tufton said the second sequencer is to be acquired through lease-funding from the CDC.
He said construction has already begun at the National Public Health Lab at the University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew, where the machine is expected to be housed.
The minister also told Parliament that experts are to arrive within the next week to begin training.
- Kimone Francis
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