Kenyan, British scientists to share expertise on COVID-19 variants

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COVID 19 vaccine

Kenyan scientists and their British counterpart will share expertise in identifying, tracking and responding to new pandemic variants, an envoy said on Thursday.

Jane Marriott, British High Commissioner to Kenya said the collaboration is aimed at saving lives in the east African nation and around the world by ensuring that everyone gets safe.

Marriott told journalists in Nairobi that the new initiative is a continuation of a collaborative venture because scientists at Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and Oxford University were closely involved in the development of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

She said that Kenya will soon receive UK support on genomic sequencing, a process of determining the order of DNA bases from blood in the fight against fight COVID-19 and future pandemics.

Marriot observed that the support that will be given through the UK’s new variant assessment platform programme (NVAP), as part of the Kenya-UK health partnership will allow the UK’s unique sequencing and variant assessment capabilities to support Kenya’s response to COVID-19 and strengthening global health security.

The support, the British envoy said, includes reagents and equipment to increase in-country sequencing, technical advice, bioinformatics support, and training.

According to Marriott, the partnership will be between KEMRI and the UK’s Public Health England.

She said that Britain will assist in the establishment of two regional hubs, one for the African Centre for Disease Control in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and one in Singapore.

Marriott said that a technical advisor will be deployed to Ethiopia to provide expertise and guidance on genomic sequencing strategy and policy as they begin to establish a hub to coordinate and undertake genomic sequencing across the continent.

Mutahi Kagwe, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Health said the support will help Kenyan researchers effectively identify, assess and track new SARS-CoV-2 variants in the general population.

Kagwe said that the support will help the countries fight future pandemics jointly, adding that KEMRI and Oxford University have a 30-year partnership in the health sector. Enditem

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