Samoa scientific research boosts COVID-19 and zoonotic disease detection

18/04/2021 Apia, Samoa

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague economies and societies across the globe, the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (SROS) maintains its commitment to strengthening and enhancing its contributions to Samoa’s nation-wide response.

SROS’s COVID-19 diagnostic testing and research work have received critical reinforcement through the generous assistance from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with support from major donors of IAEA Member States and the Government of Samoa.

Provided in response to a proposal from the Government of Samoa that was submitted under the interregional technical cooperation project INT0098 on ‘Strengthening Capabilities of Member States in Building, Strengthening and Restoring Capacities and Services in Case of Outbreaks, Emergencies and Disasters’, the financial aid has made possible, the procurement of several state-of-the-art bio-molecular diagnostic and research equipment as well as much needed laboratory consumables.

Eight separate apparatus have been received so far into SROS’s Bio-discovery Centre for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and research work, with several more en-route from suppliers in Europe. The instruments that have arrived include Biohazard Safety Cabinets and Real-Time quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT- qPCR) equipment. The RT-qPCR technology remains the preferred COVID-19 diagnostic testing and detection method world-wide.

FAO Subregional Coordinator for the Pacific Islands, Ms Xiangjun Yao, attended the handover ceremony representing Mr Liang Qu, the Director of Joint IAEA/FAO office in Vienna and FAO. “FAO recognizes that research for development is fundamental to boast food security and agriculture development” Yao said. “This equipment will great help in the detection of COVID-19 as well as after COVID, detection of animal diseases like African swine fever (ASF), a highly contagious viral disease in domestic pigs and wild boar which currently has no effective treatment. “

Caretaker Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries who also has portfolio responsibilities for the S.R.O.S., Lopao’o Natanielu Mu’a received the assistance that was handed over by the arm of the United Nations.

Through this assistance, SROS will continue to carry out capacity-building trainings for its analysts and researchers and utilize opportunities and doors that have been opened by this invaluable partnership, in the fight against COVID-19.

The instruments were procured by IAEA from Eurofins Genomics (Austria), Biozym Scientific (Germany), ESCO MICRO Pte Ltd (Singapore) and Fleischhacker GmbH & Co. (Germany). Further technical support for detection of SARS-CoV-2 and control of zoonotic disease in the future will be provided by the Joint FAO/IAEA Centre of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture under the coordination of FAO Subregional Office for the Pacific Islands in Apia.

The Government of Samoa acknowledges with great appreciation IAEA, FAO and major donors of IAEA Member States for their generous support and commitment in strengthening the country’s response to COVID-19 through SROS.

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