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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 core of the MediLabSecure project is to strengthen preparedness and response capacities to emerging viral diseases in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Sahel regions, via a “One Health” approach. Therefore, the public health emergency due to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 of zoonotic origins, falls under the scope of the MediLabSecure project, whose partners rapidly reacted implementing actions to support national surveillance capacities in the beneficiary countries and beyond.

  • Human virology working group

  • 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.

  • Animal virology working group

  • The current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human to human transmission.

    Now that SARS CoV-2 infections are widely distributed in the human population, there is a possibility for some animals to become infected through close contact with infected humans. Infection of animals with SARS CoV-2 virus may have implications for animal health and welfare, forwildlife conservation, and for biomedical research.

    Until now, all animal COVID-19 cases have been anthropozoonoses, which means that the disease is transmitted from infected humans to animals when they are in close contact. With the current evidence, it seems that domestic animals do not play a significant role in this human disease. However, new findings such as the outbreaks in mink farms in Netherlands warrant further research.

    In view of the increasing cases of SARS CoV-2 detection in animals, the Animal Health Research Center (INIA-CISA), coordinator of the animal virology working group, has developed a document summarizing available information, including data from natural and experimental infections.

    Based on new studies and reports, this document will be updated on a regular basis and made available in this section dedicated to animal virology working group Covid-19 activities.

    In the meantime, do not hesitate to share and disseminate it within your own network!

  • Version 1 (May 10th, 2020)

  • Version 2 (May 26th, 2020)

  • Version 3 (July 13th, 2020)

  • agenda

    SARS-Cov-2 in animals v2

  • Public health working group

  • From the very beginning and even more during the peak covid-19 epidemic phase, health personnel is on the front line in the management of the epidemic and with different challenges that, in accordance with their role, include a spectrum of responsibilities ranging from surveillance of cases to clinical management and care of patients with well-known associated risks.

    In order to strengthen the surveillance and protection capacities of healthcare workers, the MediLabSecure public health working group coordinated by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) has adapted a training course for health staff developed in Italy on Preparedness and Response to the Health Emergency from novel Coronavirus SARS CoV-2 structured into three units:

  • features of SARS CoV-2 emergency;

  • surveillance, identification and management of suspects and cases;

  • information for the health personnel on prevention, identification and control in clinical and community settings

  • The 3 units of the training course are now available to all the participants.

    This training has been adapted and contextualized to MediLabSecure participating countries and made available in English and French as an off-line training downloadable package for wide dissemination beyond the network.

    Also, training materials are available for Trainers who are interested in organising training for health staff at national level.

    The topics and the methods adopted make the course suitable also for health staff working in laboratories or other disciplines supporting the management of the epidemic at country level.

    Contact for more information and registration:

    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 recent lockdowns in France, Spain and Italia, the entire MediLabSecure team is still working and supporting all our colleagues and friends who are on the first line as well.

    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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