ALS receives COVID-19 Resilience Certificate from Singapore for population-scale virus surveillance programme

Singapore skyline
28 NOV 2023 ALS

ALS has been honored by the government of Singapore with a COVID-19 Resilience Certificate. The certificate was presented to ALS for quickly overcoming significant challenges during the pandemic to provide the nation with wastewater testing for the surveillance of COVID-19. The award was one of many given to those organisations and individuals that have made a difference for Singapore in combatting the deadly disease.
 
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in over 770 million cases and nearly 7 million deaths globally in less than 4 years. To inform their responses, governments have needed scientific and cost-effective tools to track the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Conventional population surveillance using nasopharyngeal swabs and PCR analysis is important but expensive and logistically complex. Wastewater surveillance complements the conventional method by providing low-cost, efficient, and non-intrusive monitoring at the population scale. 
 
When Singapore initiated one of the world’s first wastewater surveillance programmes for COVID-19 in April 2020, it turned to ALS to help trace SARS-CoV-2 viral fragments in wastewater in local communities, dormitories, hostels, nursing homes, town centres and army camps across the country. At the time, little was known about how the virus spread, how to handle it, or how to test for it. ALS’ laboratory in Singapore had already been providing the region with a wide range of testing and analytical services for the agricultural, industrial, government and environmental sectors, but testing for SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater was uncharted and potentially dangerous territory.

‘We started from scratch without intensive experience in that type of molecular testing, and we feared the risk of infection from what at that time was an unknown virus,’ explains Ken Lam, Assistant General Manager at ALS in Singapore. ‘But with the full support of ALS management and the hard work of the staff, we managed to overcome the challenges and began testing in a very short span of time.’ ALS’ team in Singapore were soon processing nearly 1,000 samples daily during the pandemic and offering a remarkable 1-day turnaround time. 

Singapore’s COVID-19 wastewater surveillance coverage has rapidly expanded from 200 sites in 2021 to over 400 sites in 2022 with a weekly testing capacity of about 4,000 samples. ALS has subsequently also been enlisted to assist with the implementation of Hong Kong's COVID-19 wastewater surveillance programme. Although the pandemic has ended, COVID-19 is still with us, and ALS continues to support the governments of Singapore and Hong Kong with wastewater monitoring for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

In assessing the achievement, Lam cites the combined efforts of ALS teams in Asia, Australia, and Europe, who joined forces to provide the knowledge, methods and resources that enabled the success of the project during unparalleled times. It’s fitting that the certificate from Singapore honors resiliency, which, as Lam explains, is one of ALS’ core values. 

‘Throughout this journey, we have experienced the meaning of our core value of being resilient,’ says Lam. ‘And we better understand the importance of another of our company’s core values: the spirit of working together as one ALS.’
 

For more information, please contact Ken Lam at ken.lam@alsglobal.com

About ALS Limited
A global leader in testing, ALS provides comprehensive testing solutions to clients in a wide range of industries around the world. Using state-of-the-art technologies and innovative methodologies, our dedicated international teams deliver highest-quality testing services and personalized solutions supported by local expertise. We help our clients leverage the power of data-driven insights for a safer and healthier world.

References
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9991928/
https://covid19.who.int/