On Friday, December 3, the study “WHO international standard for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies to determine markers of protection” was published in the Lancet Microbe. Dr Thomas Althaus and Dr Eric Voiglio of Monaco’s Direction de l’Action Sanitaire coauthored the report along with a team in Singapore.
At the time of publication, the two scientists were in Monaco participating in a two-day “Global Virus Network and Monaco Covid-19 Diagnostic Conference: Promises and Challenges” that brought together academia, industry and government.
The focus was on the deployment of a global and collaborative diagnostic arsenal using innovative technologies to detect and fight against pandemics, especially in middle- and low-income countries.
The recent detection of the Covid variant Omicron has exposed the challenges in curbing Covid, especially in developing nations, which have become breeding grounds for evolving strains and viral infectious disease. Accurate, rapid and massively deployed diagnostics are key to effectively contain viral transmission, was a key theme of the event.
“Diagnostics has been an underappreciated field in this major sanitary crisis. Yet, this is a major tool to curb viral threats and maintain economic, social and cultural activities in the context of such pandemics,” said Prof. Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, president of the Global Virus Network, associate vice-president for International Partnerships and Innovation at University of South Florida. “There has been extensive technological progress in global health that needs to translate to routine diagnostics.”
Diagnostics of key human pathogens will continue to be a major challenge and burden in preparing for future pandemics if an effective surveillance, research, diagnostic and response plan is not put place.
Prof. Patrick Rampal, President of the Scientific Center of Monaco stated, “The role of the various diagnostic and immunological monitoring tests to guide the vaccine policy were considered, as well as the overall strategy for the biological and genetic management of this type of epidemic. The workshop represented a unique opportunity to examine different situations and responses in various countries. This will help to better understand how to deploy the global and collaborative diagnostic arsenal we urgently need.”
Alain Mérieux, president of the Mérieux Foundation, whose global health mission is to strengthen local capacities in developing countries to reduce the impact of infectious diseases on vulnerable populations, said is about early diagnosis detection in industrialized countries, but especially in vulnerable countries, where epidemics are often born. “It is our duty to develop low-cost solutions accessible to all because the response can only be global for pathogens that know no borders. Solutions that must be affordable and technically adapted to the difficult logistical constraints in the field.”
The symposium took place on December 2-3 under the High Patronage of Prince Albert, who was present on Friday, along with the Global Virus Network, the Centre Scientifique de Monaco, the Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco and the Fondation Merieux.