The World Health Organization has designated RIVM as a reference laboratory for coronaviruses. As such, RIVM participates in the SARS-CoV-2 reference laboratory network known as CoViNet.

RIVM carries out microbiological research and surveillance, specific patient and outbreak diagnostics of infectious diseases. RIVM coordinates the network of national reference laboratories in the Netherlands. In addition, we support coronavirus surveillance with environmental surveillance activities such as in sewage in a One Health approach. RIVM assists specific WHO laboratory capacity-building activities with the designated WHO Collaborating Centre on Laboratory Preparedness and Response to High Threat Pathogens and Biorisk and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Risk Assessment of Pathogens in Food and Water. The World Health Organization has designated RIVM as a reference laboratory for coronaviruses, in recognition of our wide-ranging and in-depth expertise on coronaviruses.

CoViNet

As a WHO reference laboratory, RIVM is a member of the global network of reference laboratories for coronaviruses: CoViNet. CoViNet facilitates expertise and capacity for early detection and typing of coronaviruses that threaten public health. These include viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, MERS-CoV and new emerging coronaviruses. Global circulation and evolution of these viruses are monitored, studied and interpreted for risk analysis, vaccine formulation and policy advice. Participation in CoViNet is essential for the international exchange of expertise and early signalling in the virological field. 

One Health approach

Using the One Health approach, CoViNet works closely with laboratories from the veterinary, food and environmental sectors. It supports capacity building in low- and middle-income countries in particular.
The work of CoViNet is essential to support the ongoing risk assessments conducted by the WHO Technical Advisory Group for Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) and the independent ongoing evaluations of the Technical Advisory Group for COVID-19 vaccine composition (TAG-COVAC) on the implications of emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants for COVID-19 vaccine composition.