The agency’s director-general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said on 11 May the funds will enable the IAEA to help hundreds of laboratories around the world in the use of a nuclear-derived testing technique called real time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (real time RT-PCR). The method is currently the fastest and most accurate to detect the virus causing Covid-19.
Several member states have announced support for the IAEA’s assistance related to Covid-19, including US $11m from the US, €4m from Japan, €3.3m from Canada, €2m from Norway, €500,000 each from Germany, the Netherlands and Russia, €200,000 from Finland, along with contributions from Australia and others. In addition, China has announced in-kind support worth US$2m.
The IAEA assistance comprises ready-to-run testing packages with personal protective equipment (PPE), RT-PCR machines, and laboratory consumables and diagnostic kits. The IAEA also offers technical expertise and guidance and organises webinars to train health professionals around the world.
The number of countries requesting IAEA assistance has increased to 119 from 10 two months ago.
Mr Grossi said around 20 RT-PCR machines had been delivered to end users so far. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Iran, Latvia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Peru, Senegal, Thailand and Togo are among the first to receive the equipment, which can be used immediately. Many other countries will receive the kits in coming days and weeks.