King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), in partnership with the Saudi Center for Disease Prevention and Control (Weqaya), have launched an initiative to study and determine the genetic factors that cause variation of symptoms of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) among Saudis, as part of the national efforts to confront this global pandemic.
President of KACST Dr. Anas bin Faris Al-Faris said that the initiative aims to understand the genetic factors leading to the difference of severity of infections among Saudis through studying the genetic sequence of disease carriers. He added that the initiative is important to build a national genetic databases in cooperation with the health sector, develop strategic solutions and plans to protect the Kingdom's population and those who are more vulnerable to infection, raise the efficiency of existing treatment methods and develop new medicines.
Executive Director of Weqaya Dr. Abdullah Al-Quwizani said that this initiative will help in identifying the genetic factors that may have a role in understanding and explaining the different severity of COVID-19 cases from various aspects that include fighting the disease and protecting the people most vulnerable to the disease.
This study comes as one of the initiatives of the Saudi Human Genome Program launched by His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, aimed at documenting the first genetic map of the Saudi society, developing an integrated interactive information system in cooperation with a number of universities, research centers and hospitals to limit the spread of genetic diseases. The Kingdom is one of the ten countries in the 100,000 Genomes Club, which initiated the launch of a national program aimed at collecting, storing and applying genomic data of at least 100,000 genomes.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented by the Saudi Human Genome Program, has recently joined the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative, which brings together a number of leading countries in the field of genetics to share and analyze studies on the genetic structure of COVID-19.