HEALTH PARTNERSHIP

Kenya to benefit from UK’s genomic sequencing support in Covid-19 fight

Kemri will now be able to identify new variants of Covid-19.

In Summary

• Through the UK’s New Variant Assessment Platform Programme, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) will have access to the UK unique sequencing and variant assessment capabilities.

• The genomic sequencing support includes; reagents and equipment to increase in-country sequencing, technical advice, bioinformatics support and training.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Health CS Mutahi Kagwe sign an MoU on Health Partnership.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Health CS Mutahi Kagwe sign an MoU on Health Partnership.
Image: CHARLENE MALWA

Kenya is set to benefit from the United Kingdom’s genomic sequencing support as the country intensifies the fight against Covid-19.

Through the UK’s New Variant Assessment Platform Programme, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) will have access to the UK unique sequencing and variant assessment capabilities.

In a statement announcing the partnership on Thursday, British High Commissioner, Jane Marriott said the pandemic has only strengthened the relationship between Kenya and the UK.

"Now we will share our expertise to work together in identifying, tracking and responding to new variants with Kenya, saving lives here and around the world," she said.

"I welcome this partnership with Kenya, to identify, track and respond to new Covid-19 variants and future health threats. No one is safe until we are all safe," Secretary Raab added.

The genomic sequencing support includes; reagents and equipment to increase in-country sequencing, technical advice, bioinformatics support and training.

Genomic sequencing analyses the virus sample is taken from a diagnosed patient and compares it with other cases. This also helps in identifying available variants of the virus.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe noted that the 30 years of health partnership between Kemri and Oxford University keeps growing as areas of cooperation expand.

"I am delighted to be able to take the Kenya-UK Health Partnership to the next level. The contribution and support from the UK on genomic sequencing will assist in the response to the current pandemic and will help us fight future pandemics together," CS Kagwe said.

The move is in line with the Kenya-UK Health Partnership which was signed in January by UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Health CS Mutahi Kagwe.

The UK has partnered with Kenya in the fight against Covid-19, and last year, the UK announced funding of Sh177 million to support a series of studies that would help monitor, understand and inform the Covid-19 response in Kenya.

The initiative, led by the Kemri-Wellcome Trust Research Programme and the Ministry of Health, will enable scientists in Kenya to measure Covid-19 antibody prevalence among blood donors; attendees at ante-natal care clinics; and among healthcare workers.