Whilst 2021 has seen an unprecedented expansion in global genomic sequencing capacity for SARS-CoV-2 also in Africa, many challenges remain. The translation of genomic data to inform public health decision making is needed to realize the full impact of this sequencing capacity. In order to achieve this public health impact, there needs to be improved integration of genomics capabilities with complementary disciplines, in particular epidemiology. Purposeful use of genomic sequencing beyond COVID-19 through improving the ability to link genomic sequencing data to clinical and epidemiological data has the opportunity to strengthen both epidemiological research and genomic surveillance in order to create integrated surveillance systems to monitor infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.
This topic aims to support activities to strengthen genomic epidemiology and its application to inform public health decision making. To that end, proposals under this topic should aim to deliver results that are directed, tailored towards, and contributing to all of the following expected outcomes:
Collaboration between the Global Health EDCTP3 JU and the contributing partner Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The collaboration between the Global Health EDCTP3 Joint Undertaking and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aims to leverage the genomic sequencing capacity being built in Africa to support epidemiology and surveillance of endemic and epidemic pathogens. In order to achieve this, partnerships between epidemiology sites (such as population cohorts and clinical trial sites) and genomic sequencing labs in national public health institutes (NPHIs) are needed, sharing and leveraging resources and expertise.
The establishment of the Africa Pathogen Genomics Initiative (Africa PGI) with Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), coupled with the accelerated interest in genomic surveillance due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to increasing capacity for genomic sequencing in Africa. There is an opportunity to advance the impact of genomic surveillance in Africa by better integrating it with epidemiology expertise and study infrastructure. The integration of epidemiology and genomics, so-called ‘genomic epidemiology’, would enable countries in Africa to better understand the epidemiology of infectious pathogens, characterize pathogens, and support public health product and intervention design and effectiveness monitoring. While expertise and resources for both epidemiology and genomics exists in Africa, linking the Africa PGI to the Global Health EDCTP3 Joint Undertaking presents an opportunity to support better integration through partnerships between African and European organizations working on collaborative research. A key element of the partnership will be the Global Health Network (tGHN)’s support to Global South leadership and the creation of an enabling environment for improved health research and data science capabilities through tGHN’s ‘Ecosystem for Health Research & Data Science’ initiative.
This partnership aims to:
The collaboration is being implemented through two topics.
Through the topic GH-EDCTP3-2022-CALL1-01-03 within this collaboration presented here, funding from the Global Health EDCTP3 JU is made available. This will be complemented by the grant to identified beneficiaries (Other Action 2 HORIZON-JU-GH-EDCTP3-2022-OA2) which supports coordination activities for the collaboration and brings together the contribution from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Applicants to each of the topics are strongly encouraged to read the topic description for both topics: GH-EDCTP3-2022-CALL1-01-03 and Other Action 2 HORIZON-JU-GH-EDCTP3-2022-OA2.Scope:
Proposals should address all of the following: