IAEA to ship vital testing equipment to 40 countries in the fight against COVID-19

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VIENNA, 2 APRIL – IAEA is dispatching a first batch of equipment to more than 40 countries to enable them to use a nuclear-derived technique to rapidly detect the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This emergency assistance is part of the IAEA’s response to requests for support from around 90 Member States in controlling an increasing number of infections worldwide. Showing strong support for the initiative, several countries have announced major funding contributions for the IAEA’s efforts in helping to tackle the pandemic.
Dozens of laboratories in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean will receive diagnostic machines and kits, reagents and laboratory consumables to speed up national testing, which is crucial in containing the outbreak. They will also receive biosafety supplies, such as personal protection equipment and laboratory cabinets for the safe analysis of collected samples. Further deliveries of equipment to the growing number of countries seeking assistance are expected in the coming weeks.
”IAEA staff are working hard to ensure that this critical equipment is delivered as quickly as possible where it is most needed – said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi – ”Providing this assistance to countries is an absolute priority for the Agency”.
The IAEA is using its own resources as well as extrabudgetary funding for its emergency COVID-19 assistance. Member States have so far announced more than €9.5 million in extrabudgetary financial contributions to the IAEA for this purpose.
After his telephone conversation last week with the Director General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Mr Grossi said the IAEA is taking concrete and coordinated action to support global efforts against the pandemic. The IAEA is now also part of the UN Crisis Management Team on COVID-19.
In recent weeks, the IAEA, in collaboration with the FAO, has provided guidance on coronavirus detection to 124 laboratory professionals in 46 Member States through VETLAB, a network of veterinary laboratories in Africa and Asia originally set up by the two organisations to combat the cattle disease rinderpest. The support included the provision of Standard Operating Procedures to identify the virus following WHO recommendations. VETLAB helps participating countries to improve the early detection of transboundary animal and zoonotic diseases, such as Ebola and COVID-19.