The United States has quickly mobilized US$6 million to provide test kits to Barbados and more than 60 other countries to fight the spread of COVID-19. Each test kit contains supplies for 2,000 testing samples, including non-consumable equipment that can be used to conduct additional testing. This emergency assistance is part of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) response to requests for support in controlling an increasing number of infections worldwide.
The IAEA’s role in combatting COVID-19 stems from its expertise and experience in detecting outbreaks of certain viral diseases and in using nuclear-derived techniques in diagnosing them. One such technique is Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), which makes it possible to identify the COVID-19 virus within hours.
IAEA member states have so far announced more than US$10 million in financial contributions to emergency IAEA COVID-19 assistance, including US$6 million from the United States. It is part of a multi-national IAEA effort to provide dozens of laboratories in the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America with diagnostic machines, reagents, and laboratory consumables to speed up national testing, which is crucial in containing the outbreak. Countries will also receive biosafety supplies, such as personal protection equipment and laboratory cabinets for the safe analysis of collected samples.
“These testing kits are just one example of how the United States is deploying the full range of resources to prevent the spread of COVID-19 both within our own country and across the globe”, said U.S. Ambassador to Barbados Linda Taglialatela. “This is a challenge without precedent in our lifetime, but we are committed to fighting it together.”