Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday received one of the two Illumina gene sequencing machines donated by the United States to Vietnam.
The Illumina DNA sequencer, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, was handed over to the hospital by Robert Greenan, acting U.S. Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City.
This is one of the two machines worth US$340,000 given to Vietnam by the U.S. this week, with the other presented to Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi.
The facility will help the hospital do many things that are new to Vietnam, including analyzing mutant genes and new variants of the SARS-CoV-2, Nguyen Tri Thuc, director of Cho Ray Hospital, said at the handover ceremony.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will provide technical support, training, and materials needed to the Vietnamese hospitals.
"With this medical device, we can put into practice many new techniques, especially sequencing the SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses, bacteria, and fungi," Thuc said.
"It will also help us in cancer treatment and, importantly, to train doctors from provincial facilities on new gene techniques."
By sequencing the genetic code of strains of the SARS-CoV-2, the machines will enable the hospitals to identify new variants of concern and alert the Vietnamese Ministry of Health, CDC, World Health Organization, and other international partners appropriately.
|Acting U.S. Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Robert Greenan (left) and Director of Cho Ray Hospital Nguyen Tri Thuc visit the COVID-19 vaccination site at the hospital on October 19, 2021. Photo: Tran Phuong / Tuoi Tre|
Besides, they can help scientists develop new and more effective vaccines.
“This device will sequence the gene of the virus to identify what strain it is and whether it mutates," explained Truong Thien Phu, head of the microbiology department of Cho Ray Hospital.
"It can also support cancer treatment through sequencing human genes to detect abnormalities."
Thuc also hoped that the U.S. would continue giving support to Cho Ray Hospital, adding that the hospital's doctors are contributing their salaries to support 12 orphans, whose parents have died of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Greenan said that the U.S. and Vietnam have supported each other during the COVID-19 crisis.
"When the U.S. was experiencing the worst of our own troubles to control COVID-19, Vietnam generously supplied millions of pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the American people," he said.
The U.S. is the largest vaccine donor to Vietnam, donating 9.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine since July while providing more than $26.5 million worth of financial aid and equipment such as ventilators, laboratory supplies, and technical expertise.
“I fully expect we will continue to see more cooperation,” the U.S. diplomat remarked.
According to Greenan, the U.S. is working with domestic manufacturers and world partners to expand global vaccine production.
Washington will continue to share additional vaccine doses globally as supply becomes available.