The Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (SROS) has the capability to carry out molecular diagnostics of Covid-19, and, they have tested more than 500 outgoing travellers over the past two years.
In a statement issued by its Management, SROS confirms that since the pandemic, they have acquired several RT-qPCR equipment with support from UNDP, UNICEF, FAO, IAEA and the Samoa Government.
SROS Management explain that RT-qPCR is a World Health Organisation recommended nucleic acid-base technique for molecular diagnostics of COVID- 19. “This equipment utilizes a molecular technique to amplify a target specific genetic sequence of interest. RT-qPCR can amplify and detect a single copy of the specific genomic sequence”.
The equipment allows SROS scientists to determine the presence or absence of COVID-19 and can also provide preliminary determination of the variant. According to SROS, they are also now close to variant determination tests, so Samoa does not have to wait for samples to be sent to New Zealand.
“To determine which COVID-19 variant is in a sample with confidence, SROS is acquiring further consumables that can be used with our present equipment. This will remove the need to send samples to overseas countries for confirmation of the virus variants,” reads the statement.
Management also assures Samoa that we have qualified and certified scientists who have been trained in the field of molecular diagnostics and drug analysis working at the State Owned Enterprise.
“The Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa has over the years increased its molecular and drug testing capabilities due to requests from the Law and Justice, Agriculture and Health Sectors..
“Given overseas travel requirements at present require a COVID-19 test results, SROS has
utilized its resources for about two years now to accommodate those in need of its services. The traveler’s COVID-19 swabs collected by local medical clinics are delivered to SROS for analyses. To date, SROS has tested more than 500 outgoing travelers”.
According to SROS, the Ministry of Health (MoH) is also well equipped to carry out COVID-19 tests and has maintained the testing of travelers at our borders and people of concern. “MoH has done an excellent job given the high pressure conditions they are working under. We applaud their excellent work”.
SROS assures that molecular diagnostic services are available to support Samoa’s Health Ministry when the need arises.
SROS is also planning to acquire equipment for genomic sequencing.
“Genomic sequencing is integral in any COVID-19 response as new variants are continuously emerging. Genomic data has guided countries to make quick and informed public health decisions since the start of the pandemic, and Samoa would likewise benefit from having timely access to the genomic information of COVID-19 cases presenting in Samoa”.
SROS clarifies that most mutations don’t significantly alter a virus’ behavior, but some can be concerning. “Genomic sequencing involves decoding the genetic material of a virus to identify the mutations and determine what effect they might have on the virus’ pathogenicity. This process is done in a laboratory and can be analyzed within 24 hours”.
The public are invited to contact SROS directly if they have further enquiries or questions.