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Today, the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (SROS) has added onto its capacity the ability to test for COVID-19 and other invasive pathogens such as the African Swine Fever (ASF). Thanks to the assistance from UNDP, UNICEF and the Government of Samoa, SROS has finally received its Real Time – quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-qPCR) equipment, the appropriate analytical equipment that offers diagnostic molecular testing not only for COVID-19 but other pathogens.

 The RT-qPCR analytical equipment and all the supporting consumables cost approximately AUD $400,000, and the procurement of these were made possible by a fund courteously received from UNDP and UNICEF as part of their commitment to strengthen Samoa’s COVID-19 response through SROS. The equipment and the consumables were procured from Thermo Fisher Scientific Company at their distributors located in New Zealand and Australia.

Since the equipment is the state of the art and a new model, a two weeks refresher training will be conducted online for SROS scientists. This training, comprising both theory and practical, will be hosted by the RT-qPCR experts of ThermoFisher Scientific, to make sure that SROS scientists are fully trained in its safe handling and optimal utilization. A total of six scientists will be upskilled so that sufficient staff will be available to carry out diagnostics works should the need arise.

To date, Samoa remains blessedly COVID-free. However, with our borders starting to reopen, there is potential for the virus to enter the country. In this regard, SROS’s improved capacity for COVID-19 testing will assist and support our National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) in providing a country-wide response and ensuring sufficient testing is available, and that virus confirmatory results are provided in a timely manner.

The Government of Samoa acknowledges with great appreciation UNDP and UNICEF for their generous support and commitment in strengthening Samoa’s COVID-19 response through SROS.