Through collaboration with other Wellcome-funded programmes around the world, additional Wellcome funding was secured to expand SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance efforts, contributing to the global effort to track the emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants. The Wellcome Africa and Asia Programmes and CIDRI-Africa leveraged local and national partner networks in South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Gambia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia and established a variety of hospital, community and environmental surveillance programmes for SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19. Together, the Wellcome-funded entities and their partners constitute a sentinel structure representative of the wider worldwide response, and establish infrastructure and expertise that will equip us for the next pandemic.

Through this grant we were able to provide personnel, data and biobanking support to sustain and expand existing longitudinal SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 research cohorts, while also supporting prospective data and sample collection from patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19. We supported the purchase of a Hamilton NGS Starlet—a robotic liquid handler which enables laboratory automation and accelerates the genomic sequencing process. In addition, we supported the provision of personnel and computing resources necessary to expand computational capacity to allow rapid and scalable analysis of very large datasets, and develop software workflows to present regular evolutionary analyses of SARS-CoV-2 data at global and regional scales.

CIDRI-Africa researchers submit SARS-CoV-2 genomes to the GISAID open-access database, enabling researchers worldwide to utilise these data.

Find our investigators' publications associated with this research effort below: