Africa COVID Diagnostics project launches Phase 2

The “COVID-19: Community access diagnostics laboratory networks” project implemented by ICGEB, in partnership with New England Biolabs® (NEB®), and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, kicked-off with a virtual meeting on 16 February 2022.

This project builds on the results of a pilot phase implemented by ICGEB between September 2020 and March 2021, which supported the reliable and quick identification of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in clinical specimens through the evaluation of NEB’s novel diagnostic Reverse Transcription Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (RT-LAMP) test.

The current project broadens the scope of the pilot phase by increasing the number of Partner African Countries, improving their diagnostic capacity for SARS-CoV-2 through the transfer of scientific knowledge, expertise and technologies, and consolidating a network of diagnostic laboratories. The project aims at increasing access to, and knowledge of, high-quality and cost-effective SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tools relevant to local needs.

The kick-off event introduced representatives from the project partner laboratories in ICGEB Member States Angola, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan and Zimbabwe with NEB and the ICGEB team, and formed the foundations of a lasting collaborative working network to be sustained beyond the project lifetime.

Collectively, the project partners acknowledged the great results achieved in the pilot phase and renewed their enthusiasm for its extension to new partner countries and for the testing of new diagnostic and surveillance technologies. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation highlighted the tight link between the choice of new technology solutions and the commitment to understand the different needs and priorities of African laboratories in multiple settings. Aligning with this approach, NEB® presented their RT-LAMP-based technology as a robust, simple and flexible diagnostic tool, the use of which is adaptable to any kind of infrastructure and expertise.

The meeting thus represented an opportunity for project partners to share their experiences and best practices related to COVID diagnostics and testing of the LAMP technology, as well as compare mitigation strategies to common challenges.

Further reading:

ICGEB COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 Resource Page

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NEB Bringing more COVID-19 testing to Africa

September 16, 2021
ICGEB moves on implementing laboratory diagnostics program in Africa