The CSR arm of India’s largest public sector bank, SBI Foundation, has opened a new Centre of Excellence for Genomics Guided Pandemic Prevention in Hyderabad. Set up in partnership with CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), the new facility represents SBI Foundation’s renewed efforts to tackle the resurgent COVID-19 pandemic.
The appearance of a new COVID variant, dubbed Omicron, has seriously negated global recovery efforts. The new strain has already spread to over 108 countries and is responsible for a spike in cases. While the severity of the virus was initially unknown, recent deaths of patients infected with the new variant has sent alarm bells ringing.
According to medical experts, fully vaccinated individuals are still susceptible to Omicron, necessitating a thorough research and evaluation. The new Centre of Excellence for Genomics Guided Pandemic Prevention has been created for this specific purpose. Commenting on the initiative, SBI Chairman, Dinesh Khara, said, “SBI Foundation is proud to be associated with CSIR-CCMB in the setting up of the centre of excellence to strengthen the country’s genome sequencing capabilities and to provide invaluable data for understanding Covid, thereby enabling making of informed, data-driven decisions in facing the challenges posed by the pandemic.”
Omicron cases in India have already crossed the 700 mark and the variant is currently present in 21 states. The joint effort by SBI Foundation and CSIR-CCMB is expected to shore up India’s defense against the highly transmissible COVID variant. In fact, CSIR-CCMB is already working on an indigenous mRNA vaccine in collaboration with CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT). mRNA vaccines are already being used as COVID vaccines, the most famous being Moderna and Pfizer.
Additionally, a cheque for Rs. 9.94 crore was also handed over to Dr. Vinay Kumar Nandicoori, Director, CSIR-CCMB, by the SBI Chairman. The funds will undoubtedly help streamline research and speed up progress. The inauguration of the Centre of Excellence for Genomics Guided Pandemic Prevention is certainly a step forward in India’s bid to find an effective measure for the rampant Omicron.