Lagos set to sequence COVID-19 variants



 Lagos State Government has acquired a sequencing machine,  to identify COVID-19 variants and improve its  response to the pandemic and other pathogens.

This is confirmed in a statement by Mr Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, Director, Public Affairs in the state Ministry of Health, on Tuesday in Lagos. 

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that genome sequencing is a process that assists scientists to scan samples from an infected person,  to identify and know the new strains the  coronavirus mutates into.

Sequencing is useful for identifying hotspots or superspreaders — individuals who transmit the infection to a larger number of people than expected.

Ogunbanwo said  the state acquired a MGI DNBSEQ-G400 sequencing machine and a complete workstation for sequencing of COVID-19 variants and other pathogens.

“This critical health infrastructure, which is the first of its kind in Nigeria and Sub Saharan Africa,  is geared toward improving the diagnosis, research and outbreak investigation capacity of the Lagos State BioBank (LSB).

“It will also assist in promptly detecting and understanding the genomics of pathogens of high consequences and infectious diseases,” Ogunbanwo said.

Earlier, the state governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said the state had invested in strengthening the capacity of LSB to sequence positive COVID-19 cases.

Sanwo-Olu noted that sequencing would assist to identify the predominant strains of the COVID-19 virus in the state and enhance its  responses to the pandemic. 

NAN recalls that the World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa Region, had said that genome sequencing was vital to Africa’s efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. 

WHO said that the emergence of new and more contagious SARS-CoV-2 variants,  reinforced the need to step up genomic surveillance.

The global body noted that the variants had been linked to the surge in COVID-19 infections in most countries. 

Continued genome sequencing, according to the body, will enable health authorities, governments and researchers to monitor the evolution of COVID-19 and adjust response, accordingly. (NAN)