The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health crisis and the greatest test since World War Two. After the COVID-19 coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan, China, the virus has spread rapidly across continents, except Antarctica, with cases surging daily worldwide. South Africa’s pandemic response following a national lockdown involves active case finding (ACF) realised through a national testing programme. To strengthen our ACF strategy, the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), are pleased to announce a call for proposals to develop local innovations to address bottlenecks in South Africa’s COVID-19 testing.

 

Working closely with the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS), the call seeks to address challenges in supply of reagents and kits for South Africa by manufacturing locally for South Africa and Africa. Executive Director of the SAMRC Professor Richard Gordon comments: “This is a unique example of multiple government departments, research councils and funding agencies working together with academia and the private sector to accelerate local innovation. With limited flight travel and international lockdown strategies in place it has meant the South Africa’s ability to scale testing has been hampered. We hope that by accelerating investment in local innovation we will be able to provide resources when the testing surge hits South Africa.”