CM envisions SIDC to catalyse development of biomedical industries in Sarawak
Posted on : 16 Nov 2021  Source of News: The Borneo Post

Abang Johari (third right) together with (from second left) Dr Annuar, Manyin, Dr Sim and Jaul shovel the sand to symbolically officiate the earth-breaking ceremony of SIDC. – Penerangan Photo

KUCHING (Nov 16): Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg envisions the establishment of the Sarawak Infectious Disease Centre (SIDC) in Kota Samarahan will catalyse development of biomedical industries in Sarawak.

He said the centre will be the start of a bio-hub integrating hospitals, research centres, academics and the bio-park.

“The SIDC and other related upcoming complexes, will provide a complete pipeline from discovery to testing and clinical trials through to production plus human capital training to provide highly-skilled workforce for the biomedical industry,” he said at the earth-breaking ceremony of SIDC at the Kuching-Samarahan Expressway.

He also said that the centre’s proximity to Kuching, airports and ports as well as other amenities such as international schools, high-speed internet and soon a much-improved public transport system will also attract investors and experts from around the world to work at SIDC and contribute to the state’s economy.

“The SIDC is a research facility under the purview of the Sarawak Research and Development Council (SRDC).

“Its location at this spot here in Samarahan is strategic as this area is home to universities, research centres and the Sarawak Biodiversity Park,” he said.

On the ceremony, Abang Johari said it signified the next phase of SIDC with the initiation of a building dedicated to the research, development and commercialisation of products and services to combat communicable disease for Sarawak and the rest of the world.

“This ground-breaking ceremony is also a fresh example of the commitment from the government of Sarawak to enhance our biomedical capabilities and well-being of Sarawakians,” he added.

Meanwhile, Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Amar Michael Manyin Jawong said SIDC’s goals are to improve research in infectious disease, equip Sarawak with the capability and capacity to test medication, vaccines and equipment against infectious agents and enable Sarawak to detect, diagnose and predict potential infectious disease outbreak.

“It will also complement and collaborate with the Ministry of Health in tackling infectious diseases in Sarawak,” he said.

He said SIDC will be equipped with Bio-Safety Level 3 (BSL-3) laboratories to allow research and development (R&D) on BSL-3 infectious agents and subsequently product testing to ensure commercialisation of R&D output.

“The SIDC is a BSL-3 facility. Such facilities are commonly used for research and diagnostic work involving microorganisms which can be transmitted by aerosols and/or cause severe disease. These include Mycobacterium tuberculosis, SARS-CoV-1, MERS-CoV, chikungunya, yellow fever virus, West Nile virus, and SARS-CoV-2.

“There are three such laboratories in Malaysia, and a number of mobiles ones, one of which is at the Sarawak Heart Centre, and is heavily used for current Covid-19 screening,” he said, adding that this laboratory was donated by a consortium of private companies last year.

Bio-Safety Level (BSL) refers to biocontainment precautions required to isolate dangerous biological agents in an enclosed laboratory facility. The levels of containment range from the lowest biosafety level 1 (BSL-1) to the highest at level 4 (BSL-4).

Manyin said SIDC will focus on two core themes namely developing the capacity and knowledge to respond to future pandemics and emerging threats through human capital development and impactful research; and translating biomedical research into applications such as diagnostic tools, treatments and vaccines.

“We envisage this centre to bring together talents regionally and internationally, and attract global biomedical companies to ensure Sarawak is prepared for future challenges,” he said.

Also present were Local Government and Housing Minister Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Assistant Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dr Annuar Rapaee, State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion and Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research permanent secretary Datu Kameri Affandi