As of the first week of March 2020, total COVID-19 cases globally has reached a
staggering number of more than 90,000. The recent spike in cases in the Eastern
Mediterranean Region has become a great concern. In a situation report by the World Health Organization (WHO), the WHO Regional Director of the Eastern Mediterranean region emphasized the importance of surveillance and response activities to the outbreak. Bringing particular attention that sharing of critical information is crucial in containing the outbreak as well as to strengthen health systems.
Many challenges arose as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak, some of the most pressing ones were developing and making available diagnostic kits and discovering of a vaccine that could provide immunity to the COVID-19 disease. In our features we explore the construction of a diagnostic kit for detection of COVID-19 and discuss the balance between speed and precision. (p. 22) We also provide an overview of the efforts by companies and organizations presently known in developing a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. (p. 38)
Our cover story we also dive into the work of Dr George Yuan Xianzhi, whose team successfully predicted the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in China using mathematical modelling method, iSEIR. (p. 32)
Providing a different perspective on viruses, Mark Carascal, a Microbiologist discuss the possible therapeutic benefits of bacteriophages in combating infections caused by bacteria. (p. 26)
In this issue, we have an exclusive interview with Dr Miriam Poirier, to get an insight to the life and work of the scientist who invented the use of immunoassays for measuring chemical carcinogen-induced DNA damage. (p. 48) She is also an editor for Carcinogens, DNA Damage and Cancer Risk published by World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte Ltd. Shifting the focus to healthcare, we have interviews with experts who will elucidate on the need to tackle diabetes burnout as a result of self-management of diabetes (p. 44) and the use of gaming technology by a Taiwanese HealthTech start-up to support eldercare. (p. 52)
We are honoured to share with you our Game Changer of the month, MiRXES Pte Ltd, a Singapore-based biotechnology company. Discover its work in the application of microRNA in disease detection and supporting scientists with its research and development capabilities. (p. 18)
The rapid response to the novel coronavirus by the science community resulted in a vast number of research papers published daily on the topic. In an article by Science quoted John R. Inglis, Executive Director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press that the biggest two biomedical preprint servers, bioRxiv and medRxiv, receive around 10 papers each day related to the novel coronavirus. The overwhelming amount of information brought about a new form of “infodemic”. To do our part in digesting the copious amounts of information, APBN has published a Special Issue [Coronavirus Outbreak], covering overviews of the COVID-19 disease outbreak so far.
Deborah Emmanuel Seah Qing En