CTR-trained scientists develop diagnostic testing capability for COVID-19 (April 23)
Georgia: Scientists trained through the DoD Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program, who are now working in the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) at the CTR-constructed Richard Lugar Center, developed a Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) diagnostic testing capability for COVID-19. This diagnostic testing capability enabled Georgia to implement the World Health Organization (WHO) advice for diagnostic testing to inform outbreak control. The Richard Lugar Center was lauded as being integral in controlling the COVID-19 outbreak, and being able to efficiently get tests and also trace the origin of the virus in the country. CTR assisted in the acquisition of PPE for local personnel to safely respond to the COVID-19 outbreak in-country. BTRP aided the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) to configure the Electronic Integrated Disease Surveillance System (EIDSS) to enable reporting and communication through the Ministry of Health emergency operations system. With cooperation from NCDC, the required modifications were completed within 96 hours of the initial request. BTRP’s rapid response and Georgia’s willingness to make personnel available to support and enable this effort reflects Georgia’s intent to use EIDSS to document cases of COVID-19. This validates the cooperative efforts between BTRP and Georgia in EIDSS implementation to improve partners’ ability to monitor, track, and report emerging biological threats. A reliable electronic disease surveillance system is crucial for timely case reporting and information sharing during outbreaks.