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Community-based research into transmission-of COVID-19 virus in Mozambique

The study examines how the COVID-19 virus spreads and who is most affected in a peri-urban community setting in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp, the Instituto Nacional de Saúde (INS) in Maputo, Mozambique and two other partners have launched a population study into the transmission of the COVID-19 virus in a low-income peri-urban community in Mozambique. The objectives of this research are to understand how the virus spreads in the population and who is most affected by the disease in sub-Saharan Africa.

The year-long AfriCoVER project will collect clinical information from a cohort of 16.500 people of a peri-urban district of Maputo and investigate who is infected, who shows symptoms and who has developed antibodies. The risk factors for infection and severe COVID-19 illness, such as age, diabetes and hypertension, will be assessed.

Epidemiological and clinical information will be collected during fortnightly home visits, and a nasal swab taken from patients with respiratory symptoms. The population infection rate is determined every three months, based on blood samples which are tested for antibodies.

"What makes this research unique is that there are very few studies in which one and the same population is monitored so closely through repeated antibody testing in combination with clinical surveillance over a longer period " says Dr. Marc-Alain Widdowson, director of the ITM and coordinating investigator of the AfriCoVER project. "That's what makes this project globally relevant."

AfriCoVER is an EDCTP project. The European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership is a joint venture between European and sub-Saharan countries, funded by the European Union. In April 2020, EDCTP activated an emergency funding mechanism to support a rapid launch of Covid-19 research in sub-Saharan Africa. 

ITM leads a European-African consortium within the AfriCoVER project, together with the INS (Maputo, Mozambique), the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD -Montpellier, France) and the University Medical Centre (UMC, Utrecht, the Netherlands).

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