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Uganda Virus Research Institute



COVID19 National Reference Laboratory Project

The project focuses on the;
Quality and Accuracy of COVID19 diagnostics related activities

General Goal:

Provide technical guidance regarding adoption of new COVID19 related diagnostics technologies, supervise and oversee operation of COVID19 diagnostics Laboratories, disseminate accurate and most recent information regarding the Pandemic and provide quality assurance services as well.

Specific Objectives of the Project.

  1. Provide COVlD-19-related virological expertise and laboratory support, including training, to all national COVID testing laboratories
  2. Support capacity building of COVID-19 testing laboratories in the country including supporting and decentralization of COVID-19 testing to optimize the capacity-across the country in collaboration with CPHL.
  3. Develop and implement state-of-the art methods for COVID-I9 testing.
  4. Act as the national center for validation of COVID-19 diagnostic assays before they are licensed for use in the country and provide to MOH and relevant government agencies, technical details of diagnostic assays developed and/or evaluated by UVRI for the detection of COVID-19 virus;
  5. Provide a national reference resource of well-characterized proficiency panels and materials for ensuring quality assurance for COVID-19-testing in the country.
  6. Characterize viruses including through whole genome sequencing and provide such sequence data to publicly-accessible databases; and provide MOH updates of the evolution of the virus and its relevance to epidemic response.
  7. Track the evolution of the virus causing COVID-19 and identify changes that may be relevant to diagnostic tests, vaccine development and/or antiviral treatment;
  8. Depending on the further evolution of the COVID-19 epidemic, provide technical guidance towards;

i. development or refinement of diagnostic assays

ii. development of protocols for antiviral resistance testing;

iii. antigenic characterization of the circulating SARS-CoV-2 viruses;

iv. development/assessment of specific tests for diagnostic humoral immune

responses; and

v. development of tests for infectivity of recovering patients.

  1. To the best of your capacity and through harnessing other diagnostic capabilities in the country, provide confirmatory testing of virus materials and other clinical samples from suspected cases of COVID-19
  2. Support improvement of biosafety procedures across all testing facilities
  3. Working with other partners and MoH, support the development and maintenance of an updated SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 testing algorithm for the country
  4. Meet agreed timeframes and deadlines for testing and reporting results to the referring sites.

Activities include:

  • In country Validation of new SARS CoV 2 Diagnostics Kits (PCR, antigen based RDTs and antibody based RDT.
  • Assessment and activation of PCR COVID19 testing Laboratories.
  • Sending of proficiency testing panels to lower level COVID19 PCR laboratories.
  • Re-testing of selected positive and Negative COVID19 samples from Lower laboratories.
  • Presenting recent findings and reports to different stakeholders such as IMT and Lab pillar.
  • Holding meetings with stakeholders such as directors and managers of COVID19 testing Laboratories.
  • Genomic sequencing of COVID19 positive samples.
  • Development of COVID19 Laboratory manuals and Laboratory investigation forms.


Recent Impact /Achievements by the project

  1. 1. Validated and approved five (5) antigen based RDTs (PanBio, Standard-Q, Lyher, INNOVA and InTech
  2. Assessed and approved Ten more Laboratories for COVID19 PCR testing (Makerere University CoVAB Walter Reed Laboratory, Mengo Hospital, UMC Victoria Hospital, Tenna and Pharma Laboratory, City Medicals-Entebbe, LMK Laboratory, Mulago specialized National Referral Hospital, Paramount Hospital, SAME Day Laboratory, CASE-Entebbe).
  3. Successfully conducted 6 sets of genomic sequencing of confirmed positive SARS CoV 2 samples; samples obtained from across the country and points of entry to track distribution of variants and possible entry of new variants.
  4. Held 2 meetings with Laboratory directors and managers of COVID19 testing laboratories across the country.
  5. Prepared and sent out PT panels and received results from 30 Laboratories currently testing for COVID19 within record time of 2 weeks.
  6. Validated 6 new PCR platforms and protocols that recently entered the country.
  7. Re-tested 10 positive and 10 negative samples from the 10 regional referral Hospitals that recently acquired and installed 16 module Cephid GeneXpert machines (Arua,Lira, Gulu, Soroti, Mbale, Kabale, Jinja, Mulago, Masaka and Hoima).

Major Funders

  • Government of the Republic of Uganda
  • CDC
  • WHO