The Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority’s (ADAFSA) laboratories have joined the World Health Organization (WHO) Coronavirus Network of Reference Laboratories.

WHO established the Global Network of Reference Laboratories (CoViNet) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The network aims to facilitate the exchange of expertise and enhance global capacity for the early and accurate detection, surveillance, and genetic and phenotypic characterisation of coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), MERS-CoV (the virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), and other emerging coronaviruses of public health importance.

Asmaa Abdi Mohamed, Director of Biosecurity Affairs at ADAFSA, said: "The participation of ADAFSA laboratories in CoViNet supports the monitoring of the evolution of coronaviruses at the international level and helps to increase preparedness and precautionary measures. It also supports the process of continuous risk assessment to study the evolution of coronaviruses, which enhances surveillance and proactive capabilities for early detection of any new pandemic. In addition, it reinforces the UAE's efforts to combat communicable, zoonotic and emerging diseases and their prevention, and to prevent, contain and eradicate endemic and transboundary biosecurity threats and risks.

"Membership in the network provides an opportunity to collaborate with institutions and experts from around the world to conduct research and contribute to innovation in the field of coronavirology. This confirms the UAE's global position in the field of scientific research related to virology."

Abdi Mohamed emphasised that the laboratories' achievement of this international classification adds to Abu Dhabi's track record and emphasises the importance of international cooperation in strengthening the One Health system.

ADAFSA laboratories are distinguished by their status as a reference centre recognised by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) in the field of camel diseases and as a collaborating reference centre in quality management. The centres aim to place the UAE in a prominent position globally and support its role in promoting animal health and biosecurity at local, regional and international levels.

The reference centres help to enable the diagnosis of animal diseases, create and build national capacity and expertise in the field of camel diseases, bridge the knowledge gap by intensifying and deepening scientific research and investigating puzzling disease phenomena, and achieve global leadership in the diagnosis of camel diseases.

The ADAFSA reference centres are equipped with the latest technology and modern diagnostic techniques including molecular biology techniques, gene sequencing, bioinformatics and virus isolation in cell culture. The techniques enable the early detection and identification of unknown, epidemic or emerging pathogens.

The centres have achieved important results at all international and local levels. ADAFSA has received international recognition from the WOAH and WHO in various scientific fields. These achievements confirm that the ADAFSA laboratories are a leading global model in the field of One Health.