Detection and characterisation capability and capacity for SARS-CoV-2 variants within the EU/EEA

Technical report
Cite:

Suggested citation: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Detection and characterisation capability and capacity for SARS-CoV-2 variants within the EU/EEA. 16 February 2021. Stockholm: ECDC; 2021.

ECDC has mapped the detection and characterisation capability and capacity for SARS-CoV-2 variants across the EU/EEA. This is the fifth laboratory capacity survey since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in December 2019.

Executive summary

Key messages

  • In most Member States, the sequencing capacity for identification of SARS-CoV-2 variants is below the recommendation set by the European Commission to sequence 5-10% of SARS-CoV-2 positive specimens.
  • Although the majority of the EU/EEA countries are actively investigating the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants, three countries are not doing so.
  • Many countries are increasing or planning to increase their sequencing capacity but have indicated the need for support from ECDC.
  • Specific needs include support with sequencing capacities and protocols and with bioinformatics in particular.
  • For many countries, the turn-around time for PCR pre-screening results shared with public health authorities is longer than 48 hours.