Research & Development

Coronavirus / IAEA Doing ‘Everything It Can’ To Help Countries Respond To Outbreak

By David Dalton
9 March 2020

Agency says it is in constant contact with WHO and other key partners
 IAEA Doing ‘Everything It Can’ To Help Countries Respond To Outbreak
IAEA director-general Rafael Grossi addressing the board on 9 March. Photo courtesy IAEA/Dean Calma.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is doing everything it can to help member states in responding to the outbreak of the coronavirus, director-general Rafael Mariano Grossi said in his introductory statement to the Vienna-based board of governors on 9 March.

Mr Grossi, in his first statement to the board since taking over as director-general in December, said the IAEA is not a specialised health agency and has no role in controlling the disease. “But we do have expertise and experience that help in detecting outbreaks of certain viral diseases and in diagnosing them,” he said.

“We have been in constant contact with the World Health Organisation and other key partners to assess the current level of knowledge about Covid-19, identify gaps and work to accelerate and fund priority research.”

He said so far, the agency has received official requests for support from six countries in Africa, five in the Asia and Pacific region and three in Latin America.

He did not name the countries, but said scientists there will be offered training in a nuclear-derived technique known as RT-PCR, which makes it possible to identify the virus accurately within hours. The first training course will take place at the agency’s Seibersdorf laboratories near Vienna in a few weeks’ time.

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