CAMBRIDGE, MA, June 16, 2020 – BGI Americas Corporation, the US subsidiary of BGI Genomics, is helping the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Fred Hutch) in Seattle to support COVID-19 testing in Uganda. BGI is donating its RT-PCR test kits to Fred Hutch for use by its affiliate (Hutchinson Center Research Instiute-Uganda or HCRI-Uganda) in cooperation with the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) in Kampala, Uganda.
As the pandemic continues to spread rapidly to an increasing number of countries around the world, outbreaks have now been detected in many resource-limited countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Fred Hutch has a long-standing collaboration with the UCI to conduct research, provide training, and support clinical care at the UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Center in Kampala, a facility with world-class laboratories and molecular diagnostic capabilities operated by HCRI-Uganda.
In response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Uganda in late March, Fred Hutch and the UCI proposed establishing testing capacity at the UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Center.
“Our goal with the UCI has always been to develop high-impact diagnostic tools and therapies for low-resource settings,” said Dr. Edus H. Warren, program head of Fred Hutch’s Global Oncology program. “BGI Americas’ generous support will help accelerate Fred Hutch’s infectious disease experts to better understand how COVID-19 is spreading across sub-Saharan Africa.”
“We are very glad to support Fred Hutch to bring this much needed testing capability to sub-Saharan Africa,” said Charles Bao, General Manager of BGI Americas. “We are committed to doing everything we can to help countries around the world fight this pandemic.”
Uganda currently has only one central laboratory performing PCR-based testing for SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease. The Uganda Ministry of Health (MOH) has identified an urgent need to scale up viral testing at additional laboratories in the country and to secure reliable test assays.
BGI has donated 2,000 of its RT-PCR tests for detecting SARS-CoV-2 to help establish the initial testing capacity in Kampala.
BGI has been on the forefront of testing for SARS-CoV-2 and supporting emergency response efforts around the world. BGI’s RT-PCR Test for Detecting SARS-CoV-2 is one of the most reliable and widely used testing methods available, with over 20 million tests already performed. In 2020, BGI’s testing kit for SARS-CoV-2 received emergency approval from China’s National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) on January 26, followed by the European CE-IVD marking on February 24, the U.S. FDA-issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on March 26, and the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listing (EUL) process on May 11. It is now being distributed to more than 100 countries.
BGI and Fred Hutch envision that testing services can be expanded in Kampala to serve the greater needs of Uganda and also to build on existing networks with other institutions in sub-Saharan Africa to coordinate SARS-CoV-2 laboratory testing strategies across the region.