A traveling SARS-CoV-2 laboratory as part of a pandemic response among vulnerable Brazilian populations

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Background Brazil has been dramatically hit by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and is a world leader in COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. Additionally, the largest country of Latin America has been a continuous source of SARS-CoV-2 variants and shows extraordinary variability of the pandemic strains probably related to the country´s outstanding position as a Latin American economical and transportation hub. Not all regions of the country show sufficient infrastructure for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis and genotyping which can negatively impact the pandemic response. Methods Due to this reason and to disburden the diagnostic system of the inner São Paulo State, the Butantan Institute established the Mobile Laboratory (in Portuguese: LabMovel) for SARS-CoV-2 testing which started a trip of the most important “hotspots” of the most populous Brazilian region. The LabMovel initiated in two important cities of the State: Aparecida do Norte (an important religious center) and the Baixada Santista region which incorporates the port of Santos, the busiest in Latin America. The LabMovel was fully equipped with an automatized system for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis and sequencing/genotyping. It also integrated the laboratory systems for patient records and results divulgation including in the Federal Brazilian Healthcare System. Results Currently,16,678 samples were tested, among them 1,217 from Aparecida and 4,564 from Baixada Santista. We tracked the delta introductio in the tested regions with its high diversification. The established mobile SARS-CoV-2 laboratory had a major impact on the Public Health System of the included cities including timely delivery of the results to the healthcare agents and the Federal Healthcare system, evaluation of the vaccination status of the positive individuals in the background of exponential vaccination process in Brazil and scientific and technological divulgation of the fieldwork to the most vulnerable populations. Conclusions The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has demonstrated worldwide the importance of science to fight against this viral agent and the LabMovel shows that it is possible to integrate researchers, clinicians, healthcare workers and patients to take rapid actions that can in fact mitigate this and other epidemiological situations.
Elias MC, Slavov SN, Lima ARJ, Martins AJ, Barros CRS, Moretti DB, et al. A traveling SARS-CoV-2 laboratory as part of a pandemic response among vulnerable Brazilian populations. BMC Public Health. 2023 Jan; 23:15. doi:10.1186/s12889-022-14867-2.
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