Returning Weldon to head up full-time lab
An expanded government laboratory will be set up at Bermuda College to help train scientists in an “amazing” achievement for the island, the Premier said.
David Burt revealed that Carika Weldon, a geneticist, will move back home from Britain to set up the enhanced site, which is expected to help tackle the increased number of Covid-19 tests. He said that he was “elated” that she decided to relocate.
Mr Burt said at the regular Covid-19 briefing on Thursday: “We will be establishing and moving the government lab from its temporary facility, which is at an undisclosed location, to a new and expanded facility at the Bermuda College.
“That facility at the Bermuda College will not only enable Dr Carika Weldon to establish the lab — a government laboratory there — but also to expand what is being done there because some of the capacity issues which we are having with the increase of testing is due to the temporary nature of the small space where Dr Weldon and the Molecular Diagnostic Lab is located.”
He added: “It will enable us to start teaching laboratory science in Bermuda and so this is an amazing accomplishment.”
Mr Burt denied a suggestion that Dr Weldon had resigned her post at the MDL.
Dr Weldon was a researcher at the Oxford Genomics Centre, part of Oxford University Hospitals, before she returned to Bermuda to boost the island's coronavirus test capabilities in April.
Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the public works minister, said earlier that Dr Weldon spent her 14-day quarantine period co-ordinating the set-up of the MDL.
She led the work at the laboratory when it launched later that month.
The Premier added: “We are moving the lab from its undisclosed location to the Bermuda College, expanding the service which we will offer and making sure that we can expand the training opportunities that are there at the Bermuda College.
“I think that this is something that is amazing and Bermuda is very fortunate and I'm myself pleased that a doctor who has taught overseas has decided to come back home and to assist us in the work which we are doing.”
Dr Weldon told The Royal Gazette in March that she would like to be able to help with Covid-19 testing in Bermuda.
She added then: “All the steps of how the test is conducted are what I teach in my science outreach.
“This whole situation has really brought to light how urgently Bermuda needs human genetics research on island.”