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Biosecurity – working together in the fight against COVID‑19

22.05.2020 - Article

The Federal Foreign Office is supporting partner countries around the world in the fight against coronavirus via three biosecurity programmes involving corona test kits, laboratory training and digital learning modules.

Presentation of laboratory materials to Sudanese and Georgian partners.
Presentation of laboratory materials to Sudanese and Georgian partners. © Federal Foreign Office

The aim of biosecurity projects is to prevent the hazardous agents from being misused for weapons of mass destruction, but also to contain the spread of pathogens arising from natural outbreaks of disease. The Federal Foreign Office has been actively supporting partner countries in this field for many years. With the outbreak of the corona pandemic, technical capacities in many countries are at breaking point.

Diagnostic kits for the Sudan and Georgia

In order to increase the testing capacities for COVID‑19 diagnostics, the Robert Koch Institute and the Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology lost no time in providing their project partners with urgently needed laboratory materials. At the beginning of May, the Robert Koch Institute presented the Sudanese Ministry of Health with a set of test kits that will make it possible to diagnose up to 2500 SARS‑CoV‑2 samples. Since January, the Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology has delivered several packages containing diagnostic materials to the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia, as widespread testing capacities are essential as regards the ability to tackle the pandemic.

Laboratory training in Mali and Tunisia

In February and April, two teams of trainers from the Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology travelled to Tunisia and Mali, bringing with them diagnostic materials and training their partners in the two countries in COVID‑19 diagnostics. Building on previous training measures, the partners were quickly able to set up diagnostics for SARS‑CoV‑2 in their countries. The measures were so successful that the Tunisian diagnostics team now supports the national Ministry of Health throughout the country in diagnosing SARS‑CoV‑2 using a mobile laboratory.

Digital support at a time of travel restrictions

German Biosecurity Programme
German Biosecurity Programme© Federal Foreign Office

The German Biosecurity Programme is also using digital technology in order to provide the widest possible support at a time of travel restrictions. In addition to web‑based workshops, an online platform specially designed for the German Biosecurity Programme by the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine will provide COVID‑19 learning modules to partner organisations in the future. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is supporting the Sudanese authorities in a digital workshop, with the aim of controlling the quality of locally produced masks.

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