Dr Noor Hisham: Genome sequencing only to identify origin, type of coronavirus not cure

R. Loheswar
·2-min read
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya on October 22, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya on October 22, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 — Genomic sequencing merely helps health authorities to identify the type of coronavirus, its source, and if it has any mutations, the Health Ministry explained today.

Health Director-General Tan Sri Noor Hisham Abdullah said it will not cure or eradicate Covid-19, but rather provide authorities with vital information so they can prepare themselves and make better decisions.

He said the genomic sequencing has helped the ministry identify the source of the virus from the Sri Petaling cluster, which he said was an Indonesian strain of the coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2.

“We’ve been doing genome sequencing since the early days. That’s how we identified the origin of the Sri Petaling virus to be from the Indonesian strain.

“When we did the same thing with samples from the prisons, we found the same genomic sequencing hence telling us the virus came from the same location.

“In the Sivagangga cluster, the index case came back from India and had the mutated D614G virus which we found in individuals in the Tawar cluster as well later on.

“Even though there is no connection between Sivagangga and Tawar, we managed to identify the strain of the virus which had the same D614G,” said Dr Noor Hisham today during his Covid-19 briefing today.

Dr Noor Hisham was explaining the intricacies of genomic sequencing after he was asked his opinion on genomic sequencing which former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark said could help with fighting the pandemic in her native country.

Clark was recently appointed by World Health Organisation (WHO) to an independent panel appointed to review its coordination of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic and will be granted full access to any internal documents and materials needed.

Clark was appointed to lead the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, along with Nobel laureate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the former president of Liberia.

Dr Noor Hisham, however, stressed again that it is merely a matter of being better prepared with more information.

“Genomic sequencing will not help deter the virus, but we can identify the locality and that will help us plan our next course of action in order to control and spread the mutations.

“It also helps us check our effectiveness in fighting the spread of the virus,” Dr Noor Hisham explained,

“However, it takes time to get the results. It usually takes between two to three weeks to determine the characteristics of the virus,” he added.

Malaysia added another five deaths and 847 new cases today.

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