COVID-19 pandemic

German Epidemic Preparedness Team hands over 1.4 million tests to the African Union

Laboratory analysis of a patient sample: pipette and sample tube

Press release of 29.07.2020 |

BERLIN / Addis Ababa - Today the Epidemic Preparedness Team of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) will hand over a first substantial donation of COVID-19 materials to the African Union. The African Union will receive a total of around 1.4 million COVID-19 tests to help it fight the coronavirus pandemic. This contribution is part of the BMZ's Emergency COVID-19 Support Programme.

German Development Minister Gerd Müller said: "COVID-19 is a long way from being beaten. Across the globe 17 million people have been infected with the virus. In developing and emerging countries in particular the numbers are rising rapidly. Our neighbouring continent, Africa, has been reporting some 20,000 new infections every day – that is twice as many new cases as there were one month ago. South Africa, with 450,000 confirmed infections, is already 5th on the global list of countries with the most COVID-19 cases. We must do everything that we can to contain the further spread of the disease.

Germany will not leave its partners to deal with this difficult situation alone. One thing that must be clear to us: we either beat COVID-19 worldwide or we will not beat it at all. Many countries whose health infrastructure is weak are already finding that they cannot always cope with the demands on their systems. There is, above all, a lack of tests. Our experts are providing vitally important emergency support here and have today handed over urgently needed COVID-19 tests to the African Union. They can be used to test nearly 1.4 million people, in order to contain the spread of the virus. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this donation makes Germany one of the world's most important providers of support in the fight to beat the pandemic."

The African Union is coordinating the procurement of laboratory materials to fight COVID-19 in Africa.

German Epidemic Preparedness Teams seek to help countries identify outbreaks of disease at the earliest point possible and contain the outbreaks as much as they can. Teams have already provided assistance in Namibia, Benin, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The teams have focused on building laboratory capacity, providing test kits and lab materials, and offering training and technical advice with regard to handling COVID-19. Over the past few months, laboratories have been equipped and health personnel have been given training in handling the virus safely.

The German Epidemic Preparedness Team is a cooperation project between the Robert Koch Institute, the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). It was initiated by the German Development Ministry and the German Health Ministry. The Institute of Virology from the university hospital Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin is currently supporting the teams' activities with human resources.

In recent years the German Epidemic Preparedness Team has, for example, assisted Benin during an outbreak of Lassa fever in 2018. It also helped to set up a diagnostics procedure during the Ebola outbreak in Central Africa.

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