A Genome Sequencer has been donated to the National Influenza Centre at the University Hospital of West Indies, by the CHASE Fund, to facilitate testing for new Coronavirus (COVID-19) variants. Currently, samples taken in Jamaica are being sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency, CARPHA in Trinidad and Tobago.

While mutations are commonplace in how viruses spread, the data from Genomic sequencing can provide information on which variants are the main drivers, which can help determine relevant measures.

The CHASE Fund provided $40 million for the purchase of a Genome Sequencer. The National Influenza Centre has played a critical role in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by taking the lead on the testing process until the national public health lab was able to conduct its own testing.

The CHASE Fund, under its health portfolio, has been investing in infrastructure upgrades acquiring modern equipment and technologies for hospitals, health centres, and clinics, and facilitating the training of health care practitioners.

Speaking at the handing over ceremony Prime Minister Andrew Holness notes while lauding the CHASE fund, he says stakeholders with credible information regarding COVID-19 should be responsible for disseminating information.

Meanwhile, C.E.O for CHASE Fund, Billy Haven says this donation is a follow-up to two other machines that were provided in 2020. He notes these machines are not only for testing. He also spoke on the addition of more equipment.

More in this CVM Live story from Javine Mclean: