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BMC Med ; 19(1): 160, 2021 07 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1301851


BACKGROUND: East Africa is home to 170 million people and prone to frequent outbreaks of viral haemorrhagic fevers and various bacterial diseases. A major challenge is that epidemics mostly happen in remote areas, where infrastructure for Biosecurity Level (BSL) 3/4 laboratory capacity is not available. As samples have to be transported from the outbreak area to the National Public Health Laboratories (NPHL) in the capitals or even flown to international reference centres, diagnosis is significantly delayed and epidemics emerge. MAIN TEXT: The East African Community (EAC), an intergovernmental body of Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and South Sudan, received 10 million € funding from the German Development Bank (KfW) to establish BSL3/4 capacity in the region. Between 2017 and 2020, the EAC in collaboration with the Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine (Germany) and the Partner Countries' Ministries of Health and their respective NPHLs, established a regional network of nine mobile BSL3/4 laboratories. These rapidly deployable laboratories allowed the region to reduce sample turn-around-time (from days to an average of 8h) at the centre of the outbreak and rapidly respond to epidemics. In the present article, the approach for implementing such a regional project is outlined and five major aspects (including recommendations) are described: (i) the overall project coordination activities through the EAC Secretariat and the Partner States, (ii) procurement of equipment, (iii) the established laboratory setup and diagnostic panels, (iv) regional training activities and capacity building of various stakeholders and (v) completed and ongoing field missions. The latter includes an EAC/WHO field simulation exercise that was conducted on the border between Tanzania and Kenya in June 2019, the support in molecular diagnosis during the Tanzanian Dengue outbreak in 2019, the participation in the Ugandan National Ebola response activities in Kisoro district along the Uganda/DRC border in Oct/Nov 2019 and the deployments of the laboratories to assist in SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics throughout the region since early 2020. CONCLUSIONS: The established EAC mobile laboratory network allows accurate and timely diagnosis of BSL3/4 pathogens in all East African countries, important for individual patient management and to effectively contain the spread of epidemic-prone diseases.

COVID-19/prevention & control , Community Networks , Dengue/epidemiology , Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola/epidemiology , Laboratories , Mobile Health Units , Burundi/epidemiology , COVID-19/therapy , Dengue/prevention & control , Epidemics , Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola/prevention & control , Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola/therapy , Humans , Kenya/epidemiology , Mobile Health Units/economics , Public Health , Rwanda/epidemiology , SARS-CoV-2 , South Sudan/epidemiology , Tanzania/epidemiology , Uganda/epidemiology
Trop Med Int Health ; 26(6): 621-631, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1119265


OBJECTIVES: Specific serological tests are mandatory for reliable SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics and seroprevalence studies. Here, we assess the specificities of four commercially available SARS-CoV-2 IgG ELISAs in serum/plasma panels originating from Africa, South America, and Europe. METHODS: 882 serum/plasma samples collected from symptom-free donors before the COVID-19 pandemic in three African countries (Ghana, Madagascar, Nigeria), Colombia, and Germany were analysed with three nucleocapsid-based ELISAs (Euroimmun Anti-SARS-CoV-2-NCP IgG, EDI™ Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 IgG, Mikrogen recomWell SARS-CoV-2 IgG), one spike/S1-based ELISA (Euroimmun Anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG), and in-house common cold CoV ELISAs. RESULTS: High specificity was confirmed for all SARS-CoV-2 IgG ELISAs for Madagascan (93.4-99.4%), Colombian (97.8-100.0%), and German (95.9-100.0%) samples. In contrast, specificity was much lower for the Ghanaian and Nigerian serum panels (Ghana: NCP-based assays 77.7-89.7%, spike/S1-based assay 94.3%; Nigeria: NCP-based assays 39.3-82.7%, spike/S1-based assay 90.7%). 15 of 600 African sera were concordantly classified as positive in both the NCP-based and the spike/S1-based Euroimmun ELISA, but did not inhibit spike/ACE2 binding in a surrogate virus neutralisation test. IgG antibodies elicited by previous infections with common cold CoVs were found in all sample panels, including those from Madagascar, Colombia, and Germany and thus do not inevitably hamper assay specificity. Nevertheless, high levels of IgG antibodies interacting with OC43 NCP were found in all 15 SARS-CoV-2 NCP/spike/S1 ELISA positive sera. CONCLUSIONS: Depending on the chosen antigen and assay protocol, SARS-CoV-2 IgG ELISA specificity may be significantly reduced in certain populations probably due to interference of immune responses to endemic pathogens like other viruses or parasites.

Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/diagnosis , Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay/methods , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19/virology , Child , Child, Preschool , Colombia , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/immunology , Female , Germany , Ghana , Humans , Madagascar , Male , Middle Aged , Nigeria , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Sensitivity and Specificity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Young Adult