Recently, a group of 20 ANSEF (Armenian National Science and Education Fund) alumni collaborated to produce a large supply of COVID-19 PCR tests in response to the country’s shortage.
Their initiative launched in March and thousands of PCR tests were very recently made available to Armenia’s Ministry of Health.
“The idea was born when we realized that Armenia would run out of COVID-19 tests as the public health situation in our country rapidly deteriorated,” said Dr. Arsen Arakelyan, director of the Institute of Molecular Biology in Yerevan and a two-time ANSEF grant recipient who led the group, which was sponsored by a government initiative.
Dr. Arakelyan stated that the development process went smoothly, and moving forward between 1,000 to 2,000 new tests will be produced per day.
Each scientist contributed to the team in different ways. Dr. Hovakim Zakaryan, a three-time ANSEF awardee, the most recent of which was in 2019 for his research in infectious disease, runs the Research Group of Antiviral Defense Mechanisms in Yerevan. “I tried to be useful in terms of viability of the production process and advised on the safety and cleanliness of the lab conditions, which is vital when producing tests, otherwise they won’t work,” he said. “The group consisted of experienced and shrewd scientists and we achieved positive results.”
Dr. Zakaryan proudly stated the success of his teammates also highlighting the importance of scientific grants like ANSEF, which help develop competent professionals, and the lack of which could result in Armenia’s brain drain.