BAHRAIN’S achievements in combating the spread of coronavirus (Covid 19) was lauded by experts from UK in a webinar yesterday (Jul 29).

The UK-Bahrain Covid-19 Phylogenetic Analysis Webinar – which assessed the evolution of Covid  19 in Bahrain and UK , was organsied by the UK Science and Innovation Network in collaboration with Bahrain’s Health Ministry, was held under the patronage of Health Minister Faeqa Al Saleh.

The four-hour long session discussed high level genomic aspects and the ongoing research and clinical therapeutic trials in UK and Bahrain on the virus.

“I can see Bahrain's efforts to tackle Covid 19 efforts are impressive,” London Queen Mary University Molecular Epidemiology research head Dr Belinda Nedjai told the GDN.
“Moving forward I can see great collaborative work happening with UK and other countries to continue to understand the virus better and triage better infected patients.
“The recovery rate (Bahrain) is impressive which highlights the quality of the care provided, which reflected in the less number of fatalities.
“Bahrain is at the forefront of testing and tracing as recommended by World Health Organisation.”

University of Liverpool Infection and Global Health chairman Professor Julian Hiscox echoed similar views, commending on the country’s attention on science, medicine and public health policy.
“Bahrain is taking exactly the right steps in combating this pandemic,” said Prof Hiscox.
“The combined attention on science, medicine and public health policy is clearly the way forward and Bahrain is investing heavily in these areas.”

In his opening remarks, British Ambassador Roddy Drummond noted that the pandemic, which he said was “the biggest public health emergency of a generation” called for coordinated international response to mitigate its effects.
“Finding vaccines and treatment is critical which needs collective efforts from governments, academicians, industry and other organisations in the UK and abroad,” he said.
“Many Bahrainis are doing research in the UK, while we need a forum for structured exchange which is vital for learning as we go through the crisis.”

The envoy updated his country’s initiatives and funding in the field adding that “no government was getting it right”.
“We are all learning together over the last six months trying to find ways into the future of this very complicated and multilayered challenge.“

Health Ministry Under-Secretary Dr Walid Al Manea who described the session as a “historic webinar” underlined the role of Bahrain’s National Genome Centre in the current scenario.
“The centre is unique and special and aims to protect Bahrain from illness, both current and future and all genetic related diseases,” he said.
“The centre is leading on this new tech and is making an impact on the public health of Bahrain.
“Studies on genomic features of SARS Cov 2 and human factors help in offering important information and biological insights.
“This helps in planning for treatment protocols and vaccines.”

Genomics UK (COG-UK) director Professor Sharon Peacock was also among the opening speakers. The COG-UK is a consortium of the world leading knowledge and expertise in genomics of the four UK Public Health Agencies, multiple regional University hubs, and large sequencing centres.

The sessions focused on the genomic diversity of Sars-Cov-2 virus, the findings and its role in designing and evaluating diagnostic tests, tracking and tracing the ongoing outbreak, predicting future outbreaks and patterns, and identifying potential intervention options.

It also shed light on the opportunity for a high-level discussion on the human genetic determinants of Covid-19 susceptibility, severity and outcomes.

In the first part of the session on Covid 19 and Phylogenetic Analysis in Bahrain, key members of the national taskforce to combat Covid 19 Dr Manaf Al Qahtani and Dr Jameela Al Salman presented updates on the local efforts and impact of pandemic.
Meanwhile experts from the COG-UK presented the topic from the UK point of view.

Bahrain’s National Genome Centre head Dr Amani Al Hajeri moderated the discussions on ongoing research and clinical therapeutic trials in UK and Bahrain which featured experts in the field from UK.

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