Setting up biorepositiories and increasing sequencing capacity to respond to SARS-CoV-2 in LMICs
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the world and the effects have been felt in all sectors of global and national economies. The emergence of the more easily transmissible – and in some cases, more lethal – SARS-CoV-2 variants is troubling, in addition to fueling a resurgence of infections in many countries, including those with the lowest vaccination rates due to inequitable vaccine distribution. The variants may also affect the performance of diagnostic assays and the efficacy of available vaccines. For adequate global surveillance and informed national responses now and in the future, it is critical that sample preservation through expanded biorepositories, as well as sequencing capacity, are ramped up in resource-limited settings.
The lack of biorepositories with well-annotated samples from COVID-19 cases and accompanying controls has been an obstacle in answering critical research questions globally, and particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Biorepositories are needed to support research and development of urgently needed diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines, and to confirm and investigate cases of re-infection and breakthrough infection of vaccinees. There are also glaring gaps in the biorepository capacity of most LMIC laboratories.
Sequencing is essential for surveillance of the emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants. Unfortunately, sequencing capacity in most LMICs is still lacking.
The Virology, Immunology and Diagnostics Working Group of the COVID-19 Clinical Research Coalition is leading on this webinar.
- To highlight how diagnostic tests could be used or modified to allow rapid and affordable monitoring of the epidemiological behaviour of variants.
- Highlight the extent of sequencing capacity in LMICs and strategies for increasing that capacity, both existing and planned; and
- To describe the role of biorepositories and efforts underway to increase COVID-19 sample preservation and storage.
- Prof. Christopher Woods, Duke University, USA