Strengthening SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing Capacity in West Africa

Since more than a year, in-country SARS-CoV-2 sequencing capacity has been established at our GHPP-partner laboratories in Guinea and Nigeria leading to more than 450 SARS-CoV-2 sequences deposited on GISAID. To reinforce the independent management of this capacity as well as the team expertise, a joint Guinea-Nigeria refresher training was held in Guinea in October 2022.

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Group picture of the sequencing team trainers from Nigeria and from Guinea with their training certificates at CRV-LVHFG, Conakry, Guinea, in October 2022 (Source: BNITM)

With the support of GHPP-CoronaGlobal program, two SARS-CoV-2 field sequencing laboratories using the MinION technologies (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) have been successfully implemented in two of our partner laboratories in Guinea and Nigeria. Following several trainings performed at the Laboratoire des Fièvres Hemorragiques Virales en Guinée (CRV-LFHVG) in Guinea in 2021 and 2022 and at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) in Nigeria in April 2022, the laboratories independently manage in-country SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance. In the past months, the two sequencing laboratories have contributed to the global COVID-19 genomic surveillance response by depositing more than 450 sequences on the GISAID platform directly contributing to the worldwide monitoring of circulating variants.

The Director of the CRV-LFHVG in Conakry oversees the loading of a sequencing flow cell (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) during the hands-on sequencing training at CRV-LFHVG in Conakry, Guinea (Source: BNITM)

To strengthen these successful implementations, a refresher Guinea-Nigeria joint training on sequencing procedures, including bioinformatics analysis, took place at CRV-LFHVG in October 2022. A team from BNITM and two laboratory scientists from ISTH traveled to CRV-LFHVG in Conakry for this two-weeks refresher training. Staff from CRV-LFHVG also attended the training. The main goal was to consolidate the theoretical knowledge and hands-on skills of the local laboratories staff to provide the basis for future capacity expansion towards a broad range of other viral pathogens. This is in line with the “Global Genomic Surveillance Strategy” of the World Health Organization (WHO) and upcoming GHPP new phase of the program.

Members of the LFHVG sequencing team and trainers from Nigeria during hands-on training on next generation sequencing of SARS-CoV-2, at CRV-LVHFG, Conakry, Guinea, in October 2022 (Source: BNITM)

This activity was performed with the support of GHPP in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Outbreak Alert Response Network (GOARN) in the context of the European Mobile Laboratory deployments (EMLab) of experts in response to SARS-CoV-2 response.

Date: December 2022

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