A researcher from Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) who carried out a genome sequencing study, “Whole Genome Sequencing of Circulating Covid-19 Strains in Malaysia”, discovered a different lineage of the clade of COVID-19.
The team is led by a researcher from the Faculty of Industrial Sciences & Technology (FIST), Dr. Hajar Fauzan Ahmad, who has expertise in high-throughput sequencing, microbiome and metabolome sequencing from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and now carries out research involving the sequencing of the Covid-19 virus that spread in this country.
According to Dr. Hajar, the early hypothesis states that this virus can easily change via mutations to the sequence of its genome. This effort could not succeed without collaboration with the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) Kuantan, notably Professor Dr. Ahmad Hafiz Zulkifly and Dr. Norhidayah Kamarudin together with the Public Health Laboratory in Johor Bahru that provided the virus RNA for this study.
At this moment, the UMP COVID-19 team is actively studying a variety of clades, immune responses towards this specific clade and eventually building a diagnostic method that is sensitive and specific for this pandemic.
The sequencing project uses UMP funds. However, he is also involved with agencies such as the Malaysia Genome Institute (MGI) after being appointed as a joint researcher for the study of Genome Sequencing and Bioinformatic Analysis of Corona Virus 19 in Malaysia under the patronage of the Ministry of Science, Technology And Innovation (MOSTI).
Though it is still in its early stages, the clade that they sequenced has been evaluated by Gael Millot, a scientist from the Pasteur Institute, France, before being certified by the GISAID that functions to collect data on various types of coronavirus sequences that cause the spread of Covid-19 worldwide.
It provides the database and clinical epidemiological study for this SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Scientists interested in these discoveries can utilize the information that has been entered into this public database.
Besides that, this type of information is vital to bring public awareness about the dangers of the virus.
The discovery of the unique clade of the virus among the Pahang populace will be published academically soon.
He hopes that the efforts to sequence this virus will continue to expand to produce the best diagnostic method together with an effective vaccine to protect the public.