The Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, on Monday inaugurated the newly acquired Next Generation Sequencing Machine at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) in Yaba, Lagos.
Mamora, inaugurating the sequencing machine, said that the equipment was very important in this COVID-19 era.
It was reported that the Next Generation Sequencing Machine is an ultra-high throughput, scalability, and speed.
It enables researchers to perform a wide variety of applications at a level never before possible
The minister said: “The world has grappled with one of the highest mortalities and morbidity incidences in the history of mankind.
“The ability of the SARs-CoV-2 virus to mutate thereby changing its transmission dynamics and possibly escaping available vaccines have pressured the world to conduct massive parallel sequencing of the virus.
“This has helped in making vital public health decisions and Nigeria did succeed in ramping PCR test, which is not popular before COVID-19.
“We are also making efforts in ramping up sequencing of the virus to support our looming sequencing infrastructure in the country and new stations have been identified in Nigeria.
“The inauguration of this new machine in NIMR today will help the country in the real time monitoring of variants of COVID-19 and also prepare us against other infectious diseases like Lassa fever”.
Mamora then, urged the institute to put in place sustainable maintenance structure for proper usage of the sequencer.
The minister encouraged scientific researchers and other health institutions to work with NIMR and make efficient use of the machine to produce needed sequence data for public health decisions in Nigeria.
Earlier, Prof. Babatunde Salako, Director-General, NIMR, said that the institute was able to acquire the sequencer through the support of the Federal Ministry of Health and the COVID-19 intervention fund.
Salako said that the machine would aid the institute’s genomic research in all ramifications, and also support the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in its genomic surveillance.
“We have been able to establish a full genomic sequencing laboratory, which will help genomic research in all ramifications.
“As the foremost medical facility in Nigeria, we have indeed made significant contributions to COVID-19 pandemic control in the country through our innovation and ground breaking research works.
“The challenge of carrying out a full genomic sequencing of the Nigerian strain of COVID-19 virus has been put behind us, with the acquisition of the sequencer,” he said.
Salako, however, appealed to the Federal Government to give political and policy backing to scientists and health institutions, for the use of home grown contribution to science.