Universities may play a role in covid-19 testing

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Prof.Dr.Syed Farman Ali Shah

In these days the world is facing the epidemics of COVID -19. Around 2 million people are affected and more than 120,000 deaths are reported. In last three days, there are some drastic reports for Pakistan and the counts raised around 6000 and the suspected reports from Jinnah Hospital Karachi that of more than 200 deaths are the big question regarding COVID-19. Alhumulliah with the grace and blessings of Almighty Allah the death ratio in the country is very less than other developed countries. The credit definitely goes to Provincial & Federal Governments for their timely and effective efforts. The Government has established COVID-19 Testing laboratories to check the COVID-19 affected cases; especially from airports and international borders to prevent disease from spread. The quarantine centers have been designated to check on suspected cases of COVID-19.

Yet no medicine have been l discovered to overcome the situation worldwide. As soon as the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Pakistan; that was an alarming situation. The Governments decided for the lock down from upto April 30th, 2020. To have more facilities, the governments are going to establish new laboratories and test centers and upgrading the existing laboratories in the country by this they will enhance the COVID -19 testing capacity. Import the of the testing kits and personal protective equipments (PPEs) to safeguard the public and the front-line fighting forces i.e; doctors and the allied staff. In these conditions when country facing the outbreak of COVID-19, there is a dire need to speed-up and maximizes the COVID-19 tests. Looking into the world trend for using the university laboratories for COVID-19 test, such as Berkley University, USA and others the country could use the universities laboratories more effectively in quality and quantity, both. Provincial Governments, having a mandate of 18 amendment and educational institutions are under the command and control of Chief Minister can use the laboratories already well equipped and highly qualified relevant PhDs who are capable and may be available to lead the situation with their expertise, not only to help the government but these universities can lead certain areas with their laboratories; as they are not being utilized for the teaching purposes. This use of the laboratory s will make a good source to commercialize the laboratories in future for the purpose of testing various laboratory tests as it is being done in the research institutions of the country other than these days of pandemic COVID-19. Public and Private sector universities of the province have their well-established chemistry, microbiology, physiology, biochemistry; Biomedical and Chemical Biochemical engineering laboratories. These laboratories are upgraded through Higher Education Mega Projects 1 to 4.

The laboratories are equally capable to taken part in conduct the COVID-19 tests. It is quite possible that by already trained staff in the similar fields would run the COVID -19 Test Kits easily after a weeklong training in maximum. HEC recognized Universities and their laboratories could form a channel to support the provincial government through a ‘Task Force’ for the same lead by a well-known Professor of any of the universities. This would provide a better in number and quality for the COVID-19 Testing facility and would be able to cover the population at district level or nearby district. That will lead the universities for revenue generation for the faculty and the staff and a step towards the self-reliance self-dependent.