TRansfer of Expertise And seroSURveillance tEchnology
Serosurveillance Africa project
Serological surveillance (also known as serosurveillance) is a powerful method to assess immunity to infectious diseases. Measuring antibodies in blood or other samples provides information about the state of the immune system against infectious diseases. Serosurveillance results in detailed information about the number of infections in a population, the longevity of protection against infectious diseases and the effectiveness of vaccines used within a population. It also reveals groups within a population who are more vulnerable to a specific infectious disease.
In August 2023, the Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) donated financial resources to aid African countries in improving their serosurveillance system and transfer expertise to provide them with the knowledge and tools necessary for assessing the a) protection against infectious diseases and b) the spread of infectious diseases in their countries. Advanced serosurveillance will offer tools for epidemic preparedness as well as evidence to guide public health interventions in the battle against endemic infectious diseases.
Role of RIVM
Internationally, RIVM is known for its expertise in the field of serosurveillance and is keen to share its experience and knowledge with other countries. In recent years, RIVM received several international delegations, European sister organisations and African countries for training and technology transfer.
The funding of the BMGF will be used for laboratory equipment, course materials and travel expenses for the employees of the African labs visiting RIVM. The funding will also cover the costs of RIVM employees to provide training and exchange knowledge, both online and in person, their visit to the African labs, as well as the conference held with the African countries that participated in the project.
RIVM will welcome research groups from various African countries to train their employees. To ensure assistance after the training at the RIVM laboratory, we will create an online helpdesk. After the African countries implement the serosurveillance technique in their laboratories, a delegation of RIVM employees will visit them to tackle possible technical problems and further assist in implementing serosurveillance methods in the African labs.
The project's final step will consist of RIVM supporting the organisation of an in-person conference and creating a network between the African countries to share their knowledge in a continued collaboration.
The projectmanagers are Dr Doctor (Doctor ) Fiona van der Klis and Dr Gerco den Hartog. Together with Pieter van Gageldonk, Rutger Schepp, Gaby Smits and Lisa Beckers, they will organise a two-week hands-on training at RIVM to share the experience and procedures on performing serosurveillance research in a multiplexed-format (Multiplex Immuno Assay).
This project has received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation under grant agreement No INV-053564.