QF research entity supports Qatar in fight against COVID-19

QF research entity supports Qatar in fight against COVID-19

By QLNews

As the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) began to spread like wildfire and the world was catapulted into a state of emergency, scientists at Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI) immediately mobilized their resources to help fight the pandemic.

With state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment, teams at QBRI quickly began evaluating the tools and machinery that could be of use in nationwide testing and diagnostics, collaborating with Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).

QBRI is a research entity under Qatar Foundation’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University, effectively created a threefold plan of action to aid national authorities in the COVID-19 crisis: first, the availability of reagents should they run out; second, additional equipment for testing; and third, human capacity.

Being a research-focused facility, the leadership at QBRI recognized that while long-term research will help understand the virus better, kicking off operations to help with testing and diagnostics take priority.

“We realized that this was an emergency and that we needed to take action and do something that made an impact,” Dr. Fares Al-Ejeh, Senior Scientist at QBRI said.

With their primary objective being to increase capacity for testing, QBRI ordered and received reagents that would allow them to run 2000-8000 tests a day. They also developed an in-house RT-PCR assay for COVID-19 testing, which was eventually validated at QBRI in collaboration with HMC. The assay demonstrated high specificity and sensitivity, deeming it quite robust.

“We essentially replicated how the test is done clinically, but also aimed to make it work faster by reducing the amount of reagents needed, and developing a more sensitive method of testing,” Dr. Al-Ejeh said.

Next, QBRI transported a robotic platform to HMC to automate the extraction of the coronavirus genome and three of their RT-PCR machines to help expedite the final stage of testing for the coronavirus. QBRI also made an agreement with HMC to have QBRI’s researchers physically joining the new COVID testing laboratory at the Hamad General Hospital (HGH). QBRI researchers continue to work at the HGH-HMC in shifts to support the operation of the new COVID testing laboratory.

“Nobody was expecting the kind of numbers we saw, and we had resources we could contribute, so we immediately identified them and ensured we could collaborate with HMC. Within a week or so, we transported machinery that would be useful to HMC for testing. During a national crisis like this one, it’s essential to shift our priorities and support national authorities in any way that we can,” Dr. Omar El-Agnaf, Executive Director of QBRI said.

“We had these machines in our laboratories already, as they are regularly used in our ongoing research for cancer, diabetes, etc. We are one hundred percent committed to contributing to this nationwide challenge, which is what we continue to do,” Dr. Al-Ejeh said.

While the focus has primarily remained on testing for COVID-19 worldwide, QBRI is thinking a few steps ahead and is also directing efforts towards understanding the population’s immunity to the virus to ensure people’s return to the workforce and ease the burden on the economy. “We need to think about capacity building should the virus return for a second wave.” Dr. Al-Ejeh said.

Although the pandemic was an unprecedented event that threw a wrench in the works for the entire world, Dr. Al-Ejeh believes it has shed light on the importance of strategic planning and how it can help respond to future outbreaks in a much more efficient manner.

To plan for future incidences like these, QBRI developed an interdisciplinary program on infectious diseases, initially focusing on COVID-19. The program involves screening the community for infection and immunity, understanding how COVID-19 affects people with preexisting conditions like cardiovascular diseases, and what differences they have on different molecular compositions to manage or prevent complications.

--

Make sure to check out our social media to keep track of the latest content.

Instagram - @qatarliving

Twitter - @qatarliving

Facebook - Qatar Living

Source and Cover Images Credit: Qatar Foundation 

COVID-19 Banner
Log in or register to post comments

More from Qatar Living

Qatar’s electric vehicle strategy currently underway

Qatar’s electric vehicle strategy currently underway

Over 600 charging devices will be installed at bus warehouses and stations, metro stations, and other select locations to support the electric buses used for public transit and during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Tickets go on sale for the Amir Cup Final at Al Thumama Stadium

Tickets go on sale for the Amir Cup Final at Al Thumama Stadium

Qatar 2022 venue to host showpiece match between Al Rayyan and Al Sadd.
WHO Director-General praises Qatar’s efforts to help Afghan people

WHO Director-General praises Qatar’s efforts to help Afghan people

Director-General of World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, yesterday lauded Qatar’s efforts and cooperation with WHO to support the Afghan people.
How to procure the National Address Certificate via Metrash2

How to procure the National Address Certificate via Metrash2

You can now obtain the National Address Certificate for both individuals and companies via the Ministry of Interior's award-winning Metrash2 app.
WATCH: HH the Amir delivers opening speech during General Debate of the 76th Session of UNGA

WATCH: HH the Amir delivers opening speech during General Debate of the 76th Session of UNGA

The Amir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani delivered a speech at the General Debate of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, which took place at the UN headquarters in New York earlier today.
Watch: QL Exclusive: Interview with Athletics Director, Chris Quinn

Watch: QL Exclusive: Interview with Athletics Director, Chris Quinn

Qatar Living speaks to ACS Doha International School Athletics Director, Chris Quinn, who also oversees extracurricular activities in the school, to know more about what he does and why he loves his job.
WATCH:9 things to look forward to at BYH 2021 Expo

WATCH:9 things to look forward to at BYH 2021 Expo

Offering a variety of services in the field of contracting, architecture, and interior design, the exhibition will continue to run until September 22 at the Qatar National Convention Center.

WATCH: How to know if you’re on the right career path

WATCH: How to know if you’re on the right career path

Qatar Living Jobs returns with the fourth episode of its Career Talks series, featuring prominent Qatar-based Life and Executive Coach Faten El Ayache.