One hundred thousand COVID-19 RT-PCR tests performed by the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge

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One hundred thousand COVID-19 RT-PCR tests performed by the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge

The Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC) remains fully committed to working together with the Ministry of Health to combat COVID-19 in Cambodia. As of 26 October 2020, IPC has performed more than 100,000 (one hundred thousand) COVID-19 molecular diagnostic tests by RT-PCR in the Virology Unit. Those tests have contributed to the identification and/or confirmation of 290 (two hundred ninety) positive individuals reported by the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) to the World Health Organization (WHO) since the start of the pandemic.

IPC is a Cambodian non-for-profit research institution established in 1953. IPC carries out life science and health research on infectious diseases, and supports public health surveillance through high-quality laboratories and epidemiology/clinical research capacities. As a member of the Institut Pasteur International Network (IPIN), IPC also works closely with several national and international partners to further increase capacity and capability in Cambodia and beyond. The Virology Unit was established in
1995 and, since 2008, it hosts a high-level (BSL-3) biosafety laboratory with multiple diagnostic test capacities to identify and understand endemic and emerging infectious diseases.

IPC was prepared to test for COVID-19 by mid-January, 2020 and detected the first COVID-19 case on January 27th. In addition, IPC was integral in the response and testing of passengers from the MS Westerdam in February, 2020. In March 2020, scientists at IPC were able to successfully isolate the virus. In April 2020, IPC received designation as WHO Global Referral Laboratory for COVID-19, a crucial role in addressing the public health risks emerging from the global COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to routine molecular testing, IPC is also actively involved in global validation and verification of novel testing protocols and diagnostic kits for SARS-CoV-2, and in research projects facilitating the understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Molecular testing capacity continues to increase in Cambodia. The National Institute of Health (NIPH) began performing COVID-19 RT-PCR in May 2020, and, most recently, the provincial hospital in Siem Reap began testing using Cepheid GenXpert technology. Additional laboratory capacities for COVID-19 tests are coming online soon. IPC helps to support the training of laboratory personnel and works closely with WHO and other partners.

In parallel to direct RT-PCR tests, scientists at IPC implemented serology capacities for seroprevalence studies. On top of responding to the current COVID-19 pandemic and to current influenza (H3N2) and chikungunya epidemics, scientists at IPC continue vital research in Cambodia for a number of important infectious diseases (seasonal and avian influenza, dengue, malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, rabies, etc..), and for novel emerging zoonotic diseases, as well as other critical research projects (immunology, entomology). The maintenance of these research efforts is paramount to understand pathogens with high public health impact in Cambodia, the Great Mekong Sub-Region, and around the globe.

The Direction of the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge would sincerely like to thank: Dr. Veasna Duong (Head of Virology Unit), Dr. Erik Karlsson (Deputy Head, WHO Global Referral Laboratory coordinator), Dr HORM Srey Viseth (senior scientist), and all of the staff members who work on a 7 days a week basis since February for the benefit of the Cambodian population. The Institut Pasteur du Cambodge also thanks the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization, all development partners and donators for their
continued support

For more information:
info@pasteur-kh.org
Media contact:
jjaymond@pasteur-kh.org (English & French)
mnavy@pasteur-kh.org (Khmer and French)

Toward an integrated surveillance of potential zoonotic Betacoronaviruses in the wild animal value chain of Cambodia (ZooCoV)

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Blood sampling on the field, Mondolkiri Province, Cambodia - ©CV
Toward an integrated surveillance of potential zoonotic Betacoronaviruses in the wild animal value chain of Cambodia (ZooCoV)

The COVID-19 pandemic once again draws attention on zoonotic diseases and their impact on public health. Over the last 20 years three of the major epidemics (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – SARS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – MERS and the COVID-19) shows that potential transmission of pathogens from animal to humans are a serious threat to public health. More than 70% of zoonotic emerging infectious diseases events are caused by pathogens from wildlife origin, and among the pathogens responsible for these emergences, Coronaviruses (CoVs) are common and widely distributed broadly among humans, other mammals, and birds.

Dried Loris, Stung Treng Province, Cambodia – ©VC, 2020
Rat cages, Phnom Penh, Cambodia – © VC, 2020

Nevertheless, wildlife trade and bushmeat consumption remain popular throughout Southeast Asia, is important economically but also may increase the risk of transmission of pathogens from wildlife to humans. Therefore, the French Research Agency (ANR) and Region Occitanie jointly funded the ZooCoV international research project led by CIRAD (International Center of Research in Agronomy for Development) to better address the risk this trade and consumption practices represent for the local population in Cambodia. The project started in April 2020 for an initial period of 18 months.

The ZooCoV project, coordinated by Dr Veronique Chevalier (CIRAD) will be conducted in two provinces of Cambodia, Mondolkiri and Stung Treng. Its “One Health” approach implicates multidisciplinary actors at both local, national and international level such as the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Environment, the Forestry Administration, the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, local authorities of the provinces where the study is deployed but also the Wildlife Conservation Society, Flora and Fauna International, the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD) and Hong Kong University.

All along this project the team will implement targeted sociological –interviews and direct observations, epidemiological and virologic surveys – sampling of both wildlife and people, in provinces of concern, to describe and analyse the wild animal value chains , to describe the diversity of betacoronaviruses the population could be exposed to, to characterize and quantify the risks of spill over and analyse the perception of these risks by the communities.

The ultimate goal is to provide new data and knowledge on wildlife trade in Cambodia, and contribute to enhance the existing Wildlife Health Surveillance System, and to early detect potential transmission of pathogens from animal to human that could represent a threat to public health.

For more information:
veronique.chevalier@cirad.fr
info@pasteur-kh.org
Media contact:
jjaymond@pasteur-kh.org (English & French)
mnavy@pasteur-kh.org (Khmer & French)

Institut Pasteur du Cambodge receives designation as WHO International Reference Laboratory for COVID-19

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Institut Pasteur du Cambodge receives designation as WHO International Reference Laboratory for COVID-19
The World Health Organization (WHO) has named Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC) as an International Reference Laboratory for COVID-19. The WHO COVID-19 Reference Laboratory Network is comprised of laboratories able to provide confirmatory testing for COVID-19, and these laboratories are crucial in addressing and meeting the public health risks emerging from the global COVID-19 pandemic.
 
In addition, these laboratories are critical in the development and testing of new assays, providing timely and fundamental information, and helping to bolster response capacities worldwide. Of the 17 labs with this designation worldwide, IPC is the fourth from the Institut Pasteur International Network after Institut Pasteur (France), Hong Kong University-Pasteur Research Pole, and Institut Pasteur de Dakar (Senegal).
 
This recognition stems from the high level of technical proficiency and diagnostic testing capabilities at IPC combined with tremendous efforts in test validation and capacity building to fight COVID-19 globally. IPC is honored to be named a part of the WHO COVID-19 Reference Laboratory Network.
 
In addition to being able to receive and confirm COVID-19 samples from across the world, IPC will continue to provide expert diagnostics, testing and validation of new assays and technologies, further build capacity for testing in Cambodia and Southeast Asia, and supply vital data and information to help combat COVID-19 worldwide.
 
Following the link below to see current list of WHO reference laboratories providing confirmatory testing for COVID-19:
 

TB-Speed Still Active in the Covid Pandemic

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TB-Speed Still Active in the Covid Pandemic

In 2019, an estimated 10.0 million (range, 8.9 –11.0 million) people became ill with TB worldwide, of which 1.2 million were children. The vast majority of tuberculosis-related deaths occur in children that are not diagnosed and therefore not treated.

The TB-Speed Research Project is aiming at contributing to the reduction in childhood mortality from tuberculosis by improving the early detection and treatment of tuberculosis amongst children.

The objective of the TB-Speed Research Project is to produce a feasible and cost-effective strategy using innovative diagnosis tools and decentralized approaches improving childhood TB diagnosis developed and available for implementation in high TB-burden settings.

The TB-Speed Research Project is conducted in seven countries: Cambodia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia. In Cambodia, it is conducted by the Clinical Research Group, Epidemiology and Public Health Unit of the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, in collaboration with the National Tuberculosis Program and several health facilities in the country. It is funded by UNITAID and L’Initiative – Expertise France.

| TB-SPEED NEWSLETTER |

IPC webinar: Strengthening the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in South-East Asia

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IPC webinar: Strengthening the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in South-East Asia: Manila

Within the framework of the European Union Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Centre of Excellence Risk Mitigation Initiative (EU CBRN CoE), the CBRN South East Asia Regional Secretariat has launched the webinar series on COVID-19 to enable partner countries to share experiences and good practices related to the on-going crisis.

In this forum, epidemiologists, clinicians, laboratory professionals, policy makers and health care volunteers involved in the COVID-19 response in 10 South-East Asian countries are invited to share their knowledge and expertise.

The webinar series is intended for professionals responsible for pandemic response, including healthcare professionals, heads of healthcare institutions, public health administrators and health policy makers involved in prevention, preparedness and response against infectious disease outbreaks, and international agencies involved in biological risk management activities.

The goal of the initiative is to bring professionals in the region together to share knowledge on a wide range of important topics and to provoke conversations that will not only strengthen on-going COVID-19 response activities, but also help prevent and prepare for future health emergencies, including future pandemics.

A fundraising initiated by ISI GROUP for Institut Pasteur du Cambodge to fight against COVID-19

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A fundraising initiated by ISI GROUP for Institut Pasteur du Cambodge to fight against COVID-19

A fundraising initiated by ISI GROUP CEO, Mr Kang Leng for the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC) has now brought essential equipment enhancing our COVID-19 testing capacity.

A hand over of the equipment event was held last week on September 02, 2020 at IPC. It was a great opportunity to meet with ISI Group and Dynamic Pharma leaders and explain them about our activities and challenges. The event ended with a visit of the testing facilities of our medical biology laboratory.
We’re very thankful and touched by the collective efforts helping us to overcome all challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.