Special COVID-19 ECHO Session #36

February 14, 2021

On 12 February 2021, this COVID-19 ECHO session was convened for Prof Tulio de Oliveira to discuss the work of the Network of Genomic Surveillance of South Africa (NGS-SA) and the need to build a genomic network in Africa. From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NGS-SA started genetic sequencing early enough by building a collaborative network with South Africa. This led to the discovery of new SARS-CoV-2 variants circulating within the communities in South Africa. This work led to several publications about a rare variant within South Africa and the need to find out if this variant was anywhere else within the African continent and its neighbours. This concept was quickly shared with the scientific world where the importance of building genomic surveillance within Africa was born and the Pathogen Genomics Institute (PGI) in Africa was set up in collaboration with Africa CDC and other partners. This session emphasises the importance of accelerating genomic surveillance as a critical component of the COVID-19 response in Africa. New lineages with mutations at a specific point of the viral genome gives rise to variants that decrease the neutralisation of antibodies and can reduce the efficacy of certain vaccines. Prof de Oliveira presents the work that has been done by the NGS-SA in collaboration with Africa CDC and many other partners. Please follow the links posted here to view the recorded video session on ASLM’s YouTube channel, and download the presentations made during the session.