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The Virology Unit at Institut Pasteur du Cambodge turns 25

For the past 25 years, the Virology Unit at Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC) has been integral in research and response on emerging and endemic viruses in Cambodia, Southeast Asia, and around the globe. Established in 1996, the Virology Unit at IPC is the National Influenza Center for Cambodia (2007), a WHO Regional H5 Reference Laboratory (2013), and a WHO Global COVID-19 Referral Laboratory (2020). The Virology Unit also contributes to the national surveillance programs for arboviruses and rabies by providing virological diagnostics. Recently, the Unit was also approved by the European Union and the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention to perform rabies serology for pets.


In addition to 48 active Khmer and international staff, the Unit continuously educates and trains national and international students, and hosts and collaborates with scientific experts from around the globe. Since 2008, the Unit hosts the only high-level (BSL-3) biosafety laboratory in Cambodia containing multiple diagnostic and research capacities to identify and understand endemic and emerging infectious diseases.


The Virology Unit also provides frontline, integral support to Ministry of Health during disease outbreaks. For the current pandemic, the Unit was prepared to test for COVID-19 by mid-January 2020, and detected the first COVID-19 case in Cambodia on January 27th.  As of today, the Unit has tested over 880,000 samples for SARS-CoV-2 since January 2020. In addition to routine molecular testing, the Unit conducts global validation and verification of novel testing protocols and diagnostic kits, genomic surveillance and sequencing of the virus, and the Unit is actively conducting research on the origins of the COVID-19. On the day of the 25th anniversary, the Virology Unit detected, and confirmed by sequencing for the first Omicron variant introduced into Cambodia in a traveler.