Enhancing National COVID-19 Diagnostic Support Capacity in Uganda

Lead Research Organisation: London Sch of Hygiene and Trop Medicine

Abstract

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Technical Summary

The MRC is pleased to confirm additional funding for the MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Research Unit Uganda up to the value of £380,653 to support the Units important work on COVID-19.

Background:
The current coronavirus pandemic is a novel challenge for healthcare systems worldwide.
The virus is currently spreading at alarming rates in Asia, Europe and North America, and it
is essential that African countries prepare for the arrival and local transmission of SARSCoV-
2 and develop effective response mechanism. The African MRC Units have a critical
role to play in researching the epidemic but also in supporting local health systems in this
response. In Uganda, diagnostic capacity is to our knowledge currently limited to the
Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI, Entebbe) and Central Public Health Laboratories
(CPHL, Kampala).

Given the rapid spread of the virus globally, there is a high risk the first positive
cases will be detected in Uganda over the next few weeks.
Lessons learnt from other countries suggest that the ability to rapidly diagnose SARS-CoV-2
positive samples is critical in controlling the pandemic. However, given the pace of virus
spread seen in Asia, Europe and the US, the local diagnostic capacity will need to be
increased substantially to handle the anticipated increase in suspected cases. The Unit has
well-trained laboratory staff, robust procedures and excellent facilities which could support
the national effort to prevent and contain an outbreak in Uganda.

Support Capacity:
The Unit intends to prepare for supporting the national diagnostic capacity by offering up to
2,500 tests per month over the next 4 months. Full virus genome sequences would be
generated from a subset of positive samples, the resulting data would support the
international effort in understanding the regional movement of the virus and would monitor
for virus changes that might influence diagnostics or the pathology of the virus.

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