Improving GISRS respiratory disease surveillance in the United States through genetic characterization training

From 24 to 28 April 2023, twenty-one laboratory professionals from 19 countries in the WHO Region of the Americas (AMRO/PAHO) gathered in Panama to participate in a training on next-generation sequencing (NGS). The exercise, part of a series previously conducted for the WHO Regions of Africa, South-East Asia and the Western Pacific, focused on integrating NGS as part of a comprehensive, end-to-end integrated sentinel surveillance system to improve laboratory capabilities. region. The training includes characterization of both influenza and SARS-CoV-2 viruses. These laboratories are part of the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS).

Over the past two years, WHO has used the capabilities of GISRS to integrate disease surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 into influenza surveillance systems. As part of end-to-end integration, GISRS laboratories are supported to genetically characterize influenza and SARS-CoV-2 positive samples collected from sentinel surveillance using NGS.

In April 2023, the WHO Regional Office for the Americas and the WHO Global Influenza Program, the WHO Collaborating Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Control of Influenza at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in collaboration with the Association of Public Health Laboratories, and the Instituto Conmemorativo Corcas de Estudios in Panama City, Panama. The National Influenza Center (NIC) in La Salud, Instituto de Investigaciones Cientificas y Servicios de Alta Tecnologia (using the INDICASAT AIP) conducted practical training on NGS. Nanopore Technologies platform and bioinformatics to support and expand GISRS influenza and SARS-CoV-2 surveillance.

The exercise was part of WHO’s broader efforts to support countries implementing end-to-end integration of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza surveillance and PAHO’s Genetic Surveillance Regional Strategy for Pandemic and Pandemic Susceptible Pathogens. Post-training, participating laboratories will be supplemented with sequencing reagents available through the Influenza Reagent Resource.

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