The World Health Organization is helping countries boost testing capacity for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This includes supporting laboratories around the world. Here’s a glimpse at some of that work.
Since January 2020, WHO has emphasized the importance of diagnostic testing as part of a comprehensive strategy to control COVID-19. Tests show us where the virus is hiding, which is key to stopping the chains of transmission.
In order to strengthen global diagnostic capacity, in early 2020 a COVID-19 Reference Laboratory Network was established across the six WHO regions. Laboratories with limited experience have been supported by this network.
By the third week of January 2020, WHO had contracted the manufacture of reagents and supplies needed for SARS-CoV-2 PCR tests. By late January, WHO began shipping PCR tests to over 150 labs around the world, enabling countries to detect and monitor the virus.
In February, only two laboratories in the WHO African Region could diagnose a COVID-19 case. Now, 750 laboratories across the region can test for the virus. Crucially, testing has been decentralized in many countries, including Benin, Gabon and Nigeria.