RapidProfiling SARS-CoV-2

Rapid diagnostic profiling of SARS-CoV-2 in the context of persistent immune activation in Sub-Saharan Africa


Our study will evaluate the profile of the immune response of Ethiopians and will examine its relationship with the noted low CD4+ T-cell count and underlying immune activation status among patients with COVID-19 and will compare results with those residing in Europe.


Knowledge of SARS-CoV-2 dynamics and the host’s immune response is essential to understanding the pathogenesis as well as in formulating diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive strategies. There are very limited studies related to these issues in the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) context.

Persistent immune activation due to continuous infections with protozoa and helminths is common in the entire SSA region. Such activation usually skews the immune system towards T helper (Th)-2-type responses. The immune response against SARS-CoV-2 is typically of a Th1 type. We, therefore, hypothesize that SARS-19 induced immune activation as observed in patients in the industrialized world (with concomitant cytokine storms and extensive non-specific CD8 T-cell cytotoxicity) is more prominent than in people from SSA, due to the skewed Th2 profile of their immune system.

Current diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection is based on molecular assays of which availability in SSA is limited. Hence, this project will evaluate the performance of various rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for SARS-CoV-2, taking into account the above-determined immune system characteristics. In addition, we will evaluate RDTs for use in the screening of infected patients who are asymptomatic, in particular in health-care settings, as well as for monitoring recovery or clearance of virus shedding for use in a resource-constrained setting.

AIGHD Research Lead

Prof. Tobias Rinke de Wit


Dr Dawit Wolday (Mekelle University)

Dr Britta Urban (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine)

Contact info

Marloes Nijboer (m.nijboer@aighd.org)




Ethiopia, The Netherlands