WANIDA > Projects > Investigating the determinants of the spread of COVID-19 in rural settings


The ultimate goal of this proposal is to produce a detailed description of the spatiotemporal spread of the COVID-19 and the unique determinants of its transmission in West Africa rural settings where epidemiological data are critically missing due to poor coverage of health care. Using an inexpensive, non-invasive and high throughput screening method, we will achieve the following:

  • Investigate the routes and speed of spread of SARS-CoV-2 in rural communities of West Africa through blood fed mosquito-collection.
  • Assess the presence of antibodies to the virus and the rate of infection in domestic and wild animals and investigate their putative role as a source of human infection.
  • Describe individual and community knowledge and perception of COVID-19 and how it affects risk avoidance strategies in rural communities.
  • Produce policy-briefs to inform decisions and impact behaviour towards COVID-19 mitigation strategies.



WANIDA > Projects > Investigating the determinants of the spread of COVID-19 in rural settings

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing devastating damage to economies and healthcare systems and societies globally. Understanding current patterns of the pandemic spread and forecasting its long-term trajectory is essential in guiding decision-making. This is particularly important in regions with weak economies and fragile health care systems.

The data on COVID-19 in several African countries are currently scarce and uncertain, which does not allow for a robust analysis of the present situation. Since the emergence of the disease on the African continent, major attention and responses have been placed on urban areas.
Rural areas, where more than 50% of the African population lives, are typified by shortage of health workers, poor health structures and limited access to COVID-19 diagnostics.

Moreover, social distancing and other measures may be difficult to observe in these places and the spread of the disease might go unnoticed. It is important that an innovative approach – one that is rapid and leverages existing infrastructure – be developed to investigate prevalence and spread of COVID-19 in rural areas to guide decision-making. 

We propose an innovative, safe, non-invasive, high throughput monitoring system of COVID-19 infections that is based on the sampling of blood-fed mosquitoes as a proxy for human sampling. Female mosquitoes must take a bloodmeal in order to produce eggs. This bloodemal contains sufficient amounts of antibodies that can reliably indicate recent immune response to coronavirus. The use and durability of antibody detection from mosquito bloodmeals with ELISA is well established as it has been used for hosttyping of the bloodmeals and for the detection of antiviral antibodies.

Involved Partners:


Researchers :

  • Prof. Abdoulaye DIABATE, ACE-ITECH-MTV, Burkina Faso

Funding : WANIDA

For more information : Olivia Koupaki, WANIDA coordinator:

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