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One Health network for the prevention of vector-borne diseases around the Mediterranean and Sahel regions

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Response to COVID-19 pandemic

medilabsecure on the front line to face the covid-19 pandemic


The outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (first called 2019-nCoV and then officially SARS-CoV-2) that emerged in the city of Wuhan (Hubei Province, China) in December 2019 is now affecting 80% of the countries worldwide, to the point of being officially reclassified as a pandemic by WHO.

The main mission of the MediLabSecure European project is to enhance preparedness to emerging viral diseases in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Sahel Regions. As One-health project clustering virologists and veterinarian virologists along with medical entomologists and public and animal health representatives, the usual target of the project are vector-borne viruses such as arboviruses. However, public health emergencies due to a novel virus, in particular of zoonotic origins such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus, are part of our missions.

In this context, the human virology working group coordinated by the Laboratory for Urgent Response to Biological Threats (CIBU) at the Institut Pasteur, has been directly involved in the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic response from the beginning through active information, discussions, diagnostic tools sharing and technical support.

In particular, early during the crisis, the human virology working group sent diagnostic kits for SARS-CoV-2 (primers, probes, and positive controls) based on the Corman et al. protocol from Charité, to all laboratories from the network that requested support in order to accelerate their preparation.

Thanks to its support, the actual first cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection have been identified by laboratories from the MediLabSecure network in Algeria, Lebanon, Morocco, Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Jordan, Palestine, and Mauritania.

Additionally, the CIBU has supported laboratories from the network in diagnosis before the implementation of the procedure, but also after, to validate their initial diagnostics by confirmation of the first positive cases.

Today, we are implementing an EQA on coronaviruses with the company QCMD for all voluntary laboratories.

In parallel, the coordinators of the human virology working group had the opportunity to participate, through an online presentation on the laboratory diagnostic protocols and biosafety, in a training of trainers entitled « Strengthening country capacities on preparedness and response for public health cross-border threats focusing on COVID-2019 » organized by twining project MediPIET from February 24th to 26th 2020 in Tunis.

During this global emergency situation, MediLabSecure could rely on the past work realised for preparedness to emerging viral diseases in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Sahel Regions. The strength of the network established over the past few years allowed the human virology working group to contact, communicate, support and provide tools for facing the epidemic. These first collaborative successes illustrate perfectly the network ownership and the dynamic brought to ensure its sustainability.

Even in spite of the current lockdowns in France, Spain and Italia, Jean-Claude, Guillain, and the entire MediLabSecure team are still working and supporting all our colleagues and friends who are on the first line as well. We have limited capacities now, but we will do our best to work with you during this crisis.

If you need help or support, advice or if you have information useful for our community, please let us know. MediLabSecure was meant to prepare ourselves and to create a strong collaborating network to face such an event! Let’s prove we can do it!

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