Natural History and Laboratory Tests for COVID-19 in South Africa


  • Build on existing global research but fill an important gap in characterizing COVID-19 disease in the sub-Saharan African region.
  • Enhance and refine our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 transmission dynamics, natural history and disease progression in a setting that has a high burden of HIV and TB.
  • To determine the relationship and disease progression of SARS-CoV-2 infection and co-morbidities of tuberculosis (TB), HIV, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular and underlying respiratory conditions.
  • To characterize risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection.
  • To determine whether SARS-CoV-2 viral concentration, immunological and laboratory biomarkers of infections correlate with progression and severity of COVID-19 disease.
  • To determine the concentration and duration of SARS-CoV-2 viral shedding.
  • To characterize clinical disease progression and clinical outcomes among individuals with SARS-CoV-2 viral infection in South Africa.
  • The comprehensive laboratory validation testing studies will supplement the gold standard RT-PCR testing and provide options for rapid diagnosis COVID-19. – Guide the South African response to the COVID-19 outbreak


In late December 2019, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was first described in the Wuhan district of China.  Within two months the unprecedented spread of the virus led to the disease COVID-19 being declared a pandemic with most affected countries reporting exponential growth in the number of new cases. The high rates of transmissions, morbidity, and mortality resulted in a public health emergency of international concern in a short space of time.

In South Africa, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in early March 2020. Despite strategies to reduce viral transmissions, new cases continued to emerge.  While it is not possible to accurately predict the COVID-19 epidemic trajectory, the goal of this research is to utilize this window of opportunity to track and characterize the COVID-19 epidemic in South Africa, a country which also bears the disproportionate global burden of tuberculosis (TB) and HIV epidemics.

AIGHD Research Lead

Dr. Sabine Hermans


Centre for AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA)

Medical Department, Division of Infectious Diseases and Pneumology – Charité- Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Statens Serum Institut (SSI)

Contact info

Joeke Risseeuw (j.risseeuw@aighd.org)


European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP)

This project is part of the EDCTP2 Programme supported by the European Union



South Africa

The Netherlands