SIDC to accelerate economic growth, human capital devt in Sarawak’s biomedical sector, says Abang Johari
Posted on : 16 Nov 2021  Source of News: The Borneo Post

Abang Johari (second left) is briefed by Sarawak Research and Development Council deputy general manager Dr Ivan Yap (right) on the new SIDC building while Manyin (left) looks on. – Penerangan Photo

KUCHING (Nov 16): The Sarawak Infectious Disease Centre (SIDC) is designed to be a focal point of the ecosystem that will accelerate economic growth and human capital development in the biomedical sector for Sarawak, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said the establishment of the centre is a timely project as the state needs to begin developing its own capabilities and expertise in preparation for any future outbreaks.

“The Sarawak government is taking initiatives to be in charge of its own destiny, while maintaining close interaction and collaboration with federal authorities.

“The idea of having our own research facility is meant for us to explore the potential of our rich biodiversity. The only missing link we have is the scientists and experts.

“This is where SIDC comes in, which the government can provide but we have to interact and collaborate with experts throughout the world,” he said at the earth-breaking ceremony of SIDC in Kota Samarahan.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic was an unexpected event and that there may also be emergence of new viral diseases in the future.

“This might be due to the environment we are in and the food we consume. There are so many reasons for that.

“Therefore we have to be far-sighted and this is why our state government wants to make sure that any calamity or diseases that come after this, we are well prepared and we mean business,” he said.

Abang Johari pointed out that the Sarawak government is probably the only state government in the country that is willing to invest in research centres.

“The cost of SIDC is about RM200 million and then we have the Sarawak Tropical Peat Research Institute next door (to SIDC) as well.

“We are also going to do research on other food items through our Sarawak Biodiversity Council and soon we will also be launching our research on astronomy,” he said.

He explained that his decision to place emphasis on research was because he believed that in order for Sarawak to have a developed economy, there must be development not only in its human capital but at the same time, there must be innovation as well.

“It is by producing that conducive and enabling environment, then we can retain our students who can do postgraduate studies and at the same time, carry out research for the future.

“This is basically why the state government is involved in this,” he said.

He said since SIDC was launched in July this year, it has undertaken the vaccine serology study to establish the effectiveness of Sarawak’s Covid-19 vaccination programme and to provide direction for vaccine policy in the state in the absence of a dedicated facility.

“In the upcoming months, SIDC will be engaging in another exciting research project with the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre to screen their natural product library, which is a collection of extracts from plants and microorganisms collected from throughout Sarawak for potentially new antiviral compounds as well as compounds that inhibit the binding of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to the ACE2 receptor proteins on the surface of cells, which is the primary entry point of the SARS-CoV-2 virus into cells. The spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2 bind to the ACE2 receptors and initiate entry into the cells.

“The SIDC initiative is in line with Sarawak’s initiatives to develop our biomedical industry under the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS 2030), and will set the foundation for Sarawak to be in the forefront of biotherapeutics development using local natural resources,” said Abang Johari.

Also present were Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Amar Michael Manyin Jawong, Local Government and Housing Minister Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Assistant Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dr Annuar Rapaee, and State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion.