Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and Senior Medical Officer of Health Dr Anton Best said on Monday that preparations are being made to conduct genomic surveillance at the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory.
According to Best, this is a more sustainable and wiser choice to be able to identify variants of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Best said he had a meeting on Saturday to look at issues related to the lab, which included members of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners. One of the recommendations was the need to have continuous genetic surveillance.
Best was speaking from Ilaro Court during a live COVID-19 press conference.
“It was a one-off thing that we did three weeks ago, where we sent samples to see what variant was circulating. But in order to know if that variant continues to circulate and to what extent, and Heaven forbid if we were to get any other variant, we are now putting a programme in place to do continuous surveillance.
Best said the CARPHA lab in Trinidad had given the go ahead to continue sending samples there, but he felt it was better to build capacity at Best-dos Santos.
Mottley supported this decision. The Prime Minister said she had a recent meeting with Minister of Health Jeffrey Bostic, chairman of the Cabinet Sub-committee on COVID-19 Senator Dr Jerome Walcott and head of the Best-dos Santos lab Dr Songee Beckles regarding genomic surveillance.
She said Government is seeking people with Masters in genomics in order to further develop Barbados’ future in biotechnology and genetic engineering. (KG)