A Chinese expert (R) from Chinese biotech company BGI Group provides training to a Serbian expert at the Fire Eye laboratory in Belgrade, Serbia, April 20, 2020. (Xinhua/Shi Zhongyu)
"What this means today for us, regarding the coronavirus epidemic, is that we will be able to monitor all mutations ourselves, that we wouldn't need to get this information from abroad ... This will mean a lot for treating coronavirus patients and a more successful battle against the virus," Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said.
BELGRADE, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- A center for genome sequencing that will help Serbia fight against coronavirus was opened in Belgrade on Thursday.
The center, located in Serbia's Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering (IMGGE), is a cooperation project between Serbia and China. Serbia has invested 600 million RSD (5.6 million U.S. dollars) into the construction of the center. Meanwhile, China's BGI group has donated equipment.
At the opening ceremony, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that artificial intelligence, biotechnology, biomedicine, bioinformatics and bio-economics represent the next step in Serbia's development, allowing the country to tap into a fast-growing global market.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic (R) and Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo attend a welcoming event of China's Sinopharm vaccine at the Belgrade Airport, Serbia, Feb. 10, 2021. (Xinhua/Predrag Milosavljevic)
"What this means today for us, regarding the coronavirus epidemic, is that we will be able to monitor all mutations ourselves, that we wouldn't need to get this information from abroad ... This will mean a lot for treating coronavirus patients and a more successful battle against the virus," she explained.
Jelena Begovic, Director of the IMGGE, said biomedicine will "influence the quality of life of the whole country."
"I think this is a major day for technology and science in Serbia, and it represents the beginning of a different kind of future for all of us ... This is an investment into our future, not only into our present."
Serbia has already cooperated with China's BGI group to build two Fire Eye laboratories for PCR testing of coronavirus samples, she said.
Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo said that Serbia's improved capacity to sequence genomes and monitor virus mutations will boost the country's ability to control the epidemic.
"From the first donations of PCR tests and construction of two laboratories to today's opening of this center, the cooperation between Serbia and BGI has reflected the successful cooperation of our two countries in fighting against the pandemic. Opening this center will also provide additional opportunities for cooperation in the fields of medicine, biomedicine and biology," she said.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic touches elbows with a Serbian expert to greet each other at the opening of the Laboratory for Molecular Detection of Infectious Agents dubbed "Fire Eye" in Belgrade, Serbia, on April 20, 2020. (Xinhua) ■