EHA Clinics has made its debut sequencing of the genetics of the COVID-19 virus, analysing positive samples with Oxford Nanopore MinION MK1B technology, a portable sequencing device.
The firm’s effort comes as a contribution to an expanding viral genome sequencing geared towards improving public health with the development of specialised laboratory capacities globally.
The sequence generated from this study led to the identification of the Omicron variant, which was first discovered and sequenced in South Africa.
Nirmal Ravi, chief innovation officer at EHA Clinics, in a statement said “the rapid sequencing and sharing of SARS CoV-2 genomic data will aid the quick identification of variants, tracking of prevalence and distribution as well as determination of a relationship between strains of the virus”.
Ravi said this information can help to indicate or rule out routes of transmission, enable identification and investigation of clusters, and guide strategies to control the spread of the virus.
“It would also impact the formulation of future treatment strategies and vaccine design,” he added.
EHA Clinics is one of the few organisations in Nigeria that have successfully sequenced the SARS-CoV-2 genome and have recorded the 21k Omicron variant.
The team led by Ravi comprises Margaret Alabi, senior molecular scientist, EHA Clinics; Ishaku Haruna, consultant molecular geneticist, Gombe State University; and Dr. Miten Jain, consultant molecular biologist, University of California Santa Cruz.
Sequencing efforts have continued as the virus has spread across the world, resulting in a constantly growing data set of more than 60,000 near-complete viral genomes within the six months following the identification of SARS-CoV-2.
In 2020, World Health Organization said genomes have been generated within days of case identification and used to understand virus spread during the pandemic.
“Through this project, EHA Clinics is more prepared to contribute to the genomic surveillance initiative of WHO and is better equipped to respond to any future epidemic or pandemic in the country and the world at large,” Adam Thompson, EHA Clinics CEO said.
EHA Clinics is a provider of COVID-19 PCR tests in Nigeria that has collaborated with state and federal agencies in the public health response to the pandemic.
The healthcare service provider operates in Kano and Abuja, focusing on improving healthcare delivery in Nigeria.
Aiming to bridge the gap between patients and healthcare services in any setting, including their clinic facilities and at home, its facilities are all equipped with the latest healthcare technologies and a dedicated team of professionals providing a unique range of patient-centered services.