Coronavirus (COVID-19) Collection
- High variability in the clinical presentation of COVID-19 has consistently been described (World Health Organization, 2021). Most patients experience asymptomatic infection or mild disease only, whereas 14% suffer from severe and 5% from critical disease (Hu et al., 2021). The most common symptoms include fever, dry cough, and fatigue; ageusia, anosmia, and gastrointestinal symptoms are also observed (Hu et al., 2021; Velavan and Meyer, 2020a). Severe COVID-19 is characterized by respiratory failure, requiring mechanical ventilation or high-flow oxygen (Table 1, WHO Working Group on the Clinical Characterisation and Management of COVID-19 infection, 2020).
- Nearly two years since the start of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, which has caused over 5 million deaths, the world continues to be on high COVID-19 alert. The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with national authorities, public health institutions and scientists have been closely monitoring and assessing the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 since January 2020 (WHO 2021a; WHO 2021b). The emergence of specific SARS-CoV-2 variants were characterised as Variant of Interest (VOI) and Variant of Concern (VOC), to prioritise global monitoring and research, and to inform the ongoing global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO and its international sequencing networks continuously monitor SARS-CoV-2 mutations and inform countries about any changes that may be needed to respond to the variant, and prevent its spread where feasible.
- SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC) appear to spread more easily. Other emerging variants are also gaining attention, either known as a "variants of interest" (VOI) or "variants under investigation" (VUI), which increase transmission, warranting further studies. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SARS-CoV-2 genomes have accumulated genetic diversity, leading to increased transmission with altered viral properties (Kraemer et al. 2021).
- With reasonably good specificity and sensitivity, the speed and convenience of COVID-19 antigen tests have led to self-testing in schools, offices, and universities in the European Union (EU). Although self-testing can be beneficial and increase the accessibility to testing, there are potential ways to confound a positive COVID-19 lateral flow test. We observed that all soft drinks, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages (vodka, whiskey, and brandy), commercially bottled mineral water, and carbonated mineral water caused the appearance of a red test line.
- The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic initiated an urgent search for safe, effective treatments. Repurposing approved drugs for the treatment of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection can save considerable effort, time and costs (Krishna et al., 2020). These drugs must be suitable for use in elderly patients and those with underlying health conditions as these groups are at particular risk of severe disease and complications.
- All countries where malaria is endemic have reported COVID-19 cases. The WHO African Region has experienced >1.5 million cases of COVID-19 (WHO, 2020a) and bears 90% of the global malaria burden. Significant efforts have led to a substantial reduction in malaria deaths in the last decade (WHO, 2019a) and enduring sustainability of malaria interventions and control programs is essential. As signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and malaria partly overlap, diagnostic guidance is inevitable in malaria-endemic settings.
- With the first cases reported on March 14, 2020 (Ntoumi and Velavan, 2020), the Republic of Congo reported a total of 7794 cases with 117 deaths as of January 25, 2021, with transmission driven by the community (WHO, 2021).
- The numbers of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases are increasing steadily in many parts of the world, and the global and devastating impact of the current pandemic on all aspects of our life is evident. The number of positive molecular diagnostic tests, which are largely based on real-time (RT) PCR assays that detect genetic material of the causative agent severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), still forms the basis for reporting both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases worldwide.