Add Resources - Awareness & Advocacy Resource Centre - Media & Press

Project STELLAR: Supporting the COVID-19 Response

Project Stellar to help countries expand diagnostic testing for Covid-19

In Sub-Saharan Africa, COVID-19 testing rates are still low in most

Countries. One of the reasons for this is inadequate investment in laboratory capacity. There is a similar trend in testing rates for HIV, TB, and malaria.

In addition, despite the availability of rapid antigen tests, many countries have not effectively decentralized testing to a community level. 

New investment 

Since February 2022, C19RM 2021, the response arm of the Global Fund, has been investing US$800 million across 100 countries to procure COVID-19 diagnostics and commodities.

Project Stellar was created in February 2022 within the Global Fund to support countries in reaching Covid-19 testing goals and strengthen laboratory systems over the longer term. 


It aims to offer assistance with planning, mobilizing resources, and creating a targeted advocacy program to encourage testing. Countries will also receive help in developing a diagnostics strategy and algorithm.

Other goals for the project that will run up to December 2023 are to scale up testing, including training and community outreach, and the management of data and surveillance systems.

The project will also aim to improve regulatory approvals of rapid antigen tests and coverage for COVID-19 testing.

Another goal is to advocate for wastewater-based surveillance and epidemiological monitoring at a country level. Wastewater surveillance often provides an early warning system of cases rising. 

Project Stellar will also help countries to strengthen data management and surveillance systems. 

Resource Centre - Publications

Near-complete genome of SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant of concern identified in a symptomatic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) in Botswana

We sought to investigate whether SARS-CoV-2 was present, and to perform full-length genomic sequencing, in a 5-year-old male crossbreed dog that presented with flu-like symptoms (including a dry hacking cough and mild dyspnea) and resided in a household with 3 adults that were diagnosed with SARS CoV-2 infection. Next generation sequencing based on MinION technology was performed on amplicons that were generated using a reverse transcriptase real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) of confirmed positive SARS-CoV-2 nasopharyngeal and buccal swabs, as well as a bronchoalveolar lavage with mean qCt value of 36 based on the Nucleocapsid gene. Descriptive comparisons to known sequences in Botswana and internationally were made using mutation profiling analysis and phylogenetic inferences based on maximum likelihood. Samples from the dog’s owners were not available. A near-full length SARS-CoV-2 genome (~90% coverage) was successfully genotyped and classified under clade 20 O and Pango-Lineage AY.43 (Pango v.4.0.6 PLEARN-v1.3; 2022-04-21), which is a sub-lineage of the Delta variant of concern (VOC) (formerly called B.1.617.2, first detected in India). We did not identify novel mutations that may be used to distinguish SARS-CoV-2 isolates from the dog and humans. In addition to S region mutation profiling, we performed phylogenetic analysis using Delta sequences from Botswana (n=1303); expectedly, the sequence isolated from the dog was closely related to the Delta sequences, particularly the AY.43, AY.116, and B.1.617.2 sub-lineages that were reported in Botswana within the same time frame. This is the first documented report of human-associated SARS-CoV-2 infection in a dog in Botswana. Although the direction of transmission remains unknown, this study further affirms the need for monitoring pets during different COVID-19 waves for possible clinically relevant SARS-CoV-2 transmissions between species.

Download Report