The event aims to generate a forum to exchange views on the various current biosafety and biosecurity issues of concern
A two-day annual conference on biosafety and biosecurity, focusing on the Covid-19 pandemic, ended on Saturday.
The conference, titled “Annual Conference 2020: Biosafety and Biosecurity Issues in Combating COVID-19 Pandemic,” was organized by the Bangladesh Biosafety and Biosecurity Society (BBBS).
The conference was arranged virtually this time and was attended by scientists, researchers, diagnosticians and top government officials from various segments of the biological sciences.
The annual conference aims to provide a forum to exchange views on various biosafety and biosecurity issues of concern at the global, regional, national and technical levels.
Five presentations in all were delivered at the event and the speakers highlighted various aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic, including testing and diagnosis of Sars-CoV-2, RT-PCR in testing and detection of the virus, and pandemic management.
They also discussed challenges of controlling the pandemic in Bangladesh, biosafety in clinical care, and lessons learnt from Covid-19 pandemic control in Bangladesh.
Clinical trials of effective drug candidates were also discussed at the event.
On the first day, Dr Be-Nazir Ahmed, former director of Disease Control and line director for Communicable Disease Control at the Ministry of Health Affairs, delivered a presentation on lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic.
In his presentation, Dr Be-Nazir illustrated the dynamics of the coronavirus that originated in China and suggested ways to mitigate the spread of the virus without vaccination.
Dr Md Salimullah, director general of the National Institute of Biotechnology, discussed genomic aspects of Sars-CoV and Sars-CoV-2 and explained the emergence and re-emergence of viral pathogens.
He said the Sars-CoV pandemic makes it clear that animal coronaviruses are budding threats to the human community, and the current global pandemic caused by the newly emerged coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 is related to its predecessor Sars-CoV.
Describing the battle against pathogens as a never-ending battle, he emphasized the need to follow the emergence and re-emergence of coronaviruses through genome analysis and to understand the changes in proteins and genomes for effective therapeutics.
Mentioning the prospects of sequencing so far done in Bangladesh and overseas for developing effective vaccines, he stressed the need for more and more sequencing in Bangladesh so that the character of the novel coronavirus is illustrated properly.
Dr Paritosh K Biswas, director of Poultry Research and Training Centre at Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, delivered a presentation on zoonoses - diseases transferable between vertebrate animals and humans - associated with emerging and re-emerging avian viruses.
Education and training for right farm practices, evidence-based surveillance and responsible reporting, will be the key factors in fighting the pandemic, he said.
In his presentation, Dr Paritosh also said it is not too late and Bangladesh should go for long-term surveillance of the poultry sector so that it does not cause any more harm.
In his speech as chief guest of the inaugural session, Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Atiqul Islam emphasized the need for biosafety and biosecurity measures at every clinic and hospital. He promised to help ensure biosafety and any other endeavour of the BBBS.
On the same day, SM Ariful Islam Chowdhury, senior manager of quality assurance at the Laboratory Sciences and Services Division of icddr,b, discussed laboratory quality management systems as well as the pros and cons of management procedures at labs to ensure proper management of testing for coronavirus.
Dr Khondoker Mahbuba Jamil, of the National Reference Laboratory for Polio, Measles and Rubella and Covid-19 Testing and Diagnosis, mentioned different contingent facilities and biosafety facilities in Bangladesh. She stressed the need for more research in proper and more effective ways, to mitigate challenges posed by Covid-19.
In his speech, Abdul Jabbar, director of the Department of Livestock Services, assured that they are ready to help any related sector to control and contain the impact of Covid-19.
Professor Dr Sanya Tahmina, additional director general (Planning) of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), called on the authorities to ensure and adopt biosafety and biosecurity at all medical colleges and hospitals.
DGHS Additional Director General (admin) Prof Nasima Sultana requested the authorities to incorporate biosafety and biosecurity in the academic curriculum of all medical colleges and universities, so that students have a basic understanding of biosafety and security.
Professor Dr Md Anwar Hossain, vice-chancellor of Jessore University of Science and Technology who chaired the inaugural session of the conference, explained to the audience the role the BBBS has been playing since its foundation.
Ms Maureen Elis, executive director of the International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA), who was a special guest at the event, mentioned that, as a member of the IFBA, the BBBS is playing a key role in advancing the two disciplines in this region.
Brigadier General Prof Arif Ahmed Khan, deputy commandant of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and Dr Asadulghani, president of BBBS, also spoke at the conference.