By Muhammad Luqman
In a bid to bolster the diagnostic facilities in the face of fast spreading COVID-19, Pakistan has stepped up its efforts to set up state of the art laboratoies in the public sector to help conduct tests for emerging pathogens
Punjab Governor Ch Muhammad Sarwar inaugurated a Biosafety Level-3 ‘Laboratory at the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) in eastern city of Lahore on Tuesday.
The Department of Microbiology of UVAS in collaboration with Pirbright Institute UK, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council UK and Zoonosis and Emerging Livestock Systems UK has established the lab for research .
BSL-3 Laboratories are designated for “indigenous or exotic agents that may cause serious or potentially lethal disease through the inhalation route of exposure.
“Testing of COVID-19 is the first and foremost requirement to understand its spread, epidemiology and treatment. Since coronavirus is a novel virus, its testing facility must fulfill all the scientific guidelines of safety,” Punjab Governor said at the inaugural ceremony.
” This is the first ever BSL-3 laboratory in the Punjab province with advanced features , much needed to carry tests for lethal pathogens,” says Dr. Masood Rabbani, Pro Vice Chancellor, UVAS.
Initially, Punjab’s Heath Department will utilise the facility by sending samples from the COVID-19 patients.
” After the COVID-19 epidemic subsides, the facility will be used for the testing of the pathogens affecting the animal health,” Dr. Masood Rabbani said.
At presently, Agha Khan University and Indus Hospital in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi have BSL-2 and BSL-3 laboratories that process routine clinical samples. The BSL-3 laboratory is primarily used for processing samples from patients suspected of Mycobacterum tuberculosis (TB) infection.
In the developed countries like United States , there are Biosafety Level-4 and even beyond labs . There are currently 13 operational or planned BSL-4 facilities within the United States of America.