Viral disease surveillance

Viral disease surveillance: Our current work

United Kingdom: Ongoing surveillance of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19/SARS2)

Research into the SARS2-CoV virus that causes the disease Covid-19 is a major priority.  Samples from patients diagnosed with the disease are being sequenced at major centres across the UK.  The CVR is a local sequencing hub for Scotland, using MinION and Illumina technology to sequence the virus in real-time in order to:

  • identify new introductions into the population
  • monitor community transmission events
  • look for evidence of resistance to experimental therapies
  • provide information for centres developing vaccines

Uganda:  Ongoing surveillance of acute febrile illnesses is taking place at two sites:

  • Arua in the north-west of Uganda, close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
  • Kasese in the south-west of Uganda, close to the DRC border

The data collected from these sites is being analysed at the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe.

AVI study sites

Sample collection sites in Uganda


Viral disease surveillance: Future activity

Malawi:  Through a partnership with the Public Health Institute of Malawi and the World Health Organisation we aim to support the set-up and implementation of national respiratory virus surveillance.  There are five planned sites, testing will be based at Kamuzu Central Hospital Laboratory in Lilongwe.

Uganda:  We aim to investigate the risk of exposure to haemorrhagic fever viruses such as Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic fever and Rift Valley fever in at-risk groups of farmers, butchers and healthcare workers. We will work with our partners from the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team to enhance local capacity for case identification and infection prevention and control.  We will provide training on the use of existing tests when we identify infections which have not been previously diagnosed locally.  If no test exists, we will develop diagnostic tests on site in collaboration with our international partners at the Uganda Virus Research Institute.


Viral disease surveillance: Overall Objectives

  • develop improved diagnostic tools for surveillance activities
  • improve our and our partners’ capacity in diagnosing diseases
    • develop rapid field-tests for specific viruses
    • develop acute infection serological diagnosis methods that can identify >500 viruses from a single sample
  • apply new methods to the diagnosis of diseases
  • work with partners to enhance infection prevention and control in people exposed to viruses at work