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Dubai completes first genome sequencing of Covid-19 virus

Dubai completes first genome sequencing of Covid-19 virus

The genome of the virus causing Covid-19 consists of 30,000 genetic bases or letters

Dubai’s Covid-19 Command and Control Center (CCC) confirmed the completion of the first full genome sequencing of the Covid-19 virus.

The sequencing from a patient in Dubai was performed by researchers at the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU), Dubai Media Office reported.

“Scientific research is a critical resource to inform the Center’s strategies and actions against this virus. We are fortunate to have academic institutions that can join other sectors in Dubai in the fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Amer Sharif, vice chancellor of MBRU and head of the CCC.

The genome of the virus causing Covid-19 (known as SARS-CoV-2) consists of 30,000 genetic bases or letters.

Multiple countries have commenced reporting genomic sequences of the virus from patient samples.

As a virus proliferates, small changes in its genetic material take place. These mutations, according to studies, occur every two weeks on average. Studying the genetic sequence of the virus and the minor changes over time can lend a better understanding of the spread and subsequent control of the virus.

Professor Alawi Alsheikh-Ali, MBRU’s Provost, member of the Emirates Scientist Council and chair of the Scientific Advisory Group for the CCC, noted: “This development highlights the critical role of science and the scientific community in enhancing our capacity to fight emerging diseases. It is an important first step of a larger study in collaboration with colleagues from Dubai Health Authority and the Al Jalila Children’s Genomic Center. We aim to fully sequence viral samples from 240 patients with Covid-19 across various age groups and at different time points of this pandemic. We will also collect information on the severity of disease in our patients which can help us understand if different strains of the virus are associated with different levels of disease severity.”

The sequencing study is led by a research team from MBRU, DHA, Al Jalila Children’s Speciality Hospital (AJCH) and other national universities. The team includes experts in virology, epidemiology, public health, genetics, and clinical research.

The team is also working on other research topics related to Covid-19 and will continue to build collaborations with local and overseas research institutions.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, the total number of infections in the country has reached 4,933.

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