Netherlands donates COVID-19 Test Solution to South Africa

17 July 2020

The Netherlands has provided more than 130,000 vials of GLY solution to the South African government, to be used to ramp up COVID-19 testing.

The GLY solution improves the sensitivity of COVID-19 test results, as tests will be less affected than would be the case if swabs are submitted in a dry state.

Photo: (l-r) Mr Han Peters, Ambassador of the Netherlands to South Africa, Mr Stef Blok, Foreign Minister of Netherlands and Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, at the inaugural meeting of South Africa – Netherlands Joint Commission for Cooperation on 3 February 2020. (photo by Mariska van den Brink)

The donation arrived at OR Tambo International Airport at 16:05 on Thursday 16 July, aboard a cargo flight from Amsterdam. The delivery follows less than two weeks after a request for assistance made by South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr. Naledi Pandor to Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok.

The donation comprises 130,879 vials of Glucose-Lactalbumin-Yeast (GLY). GLY is a virus transportation medium (VTM) for human samples used in testing and diagnosing the COVID-19 virus. The GLY solution will be provided to the National Health Laboratories Services (NHLS), to enable it to continue COVID-19 testing throughout the country. Adding the testing swab to the solution after sample collection significantly improves sample preservation and diagnostic yield.

“We appreciate this kind donation. South Africa is currently facing a peak in COVID-19 infections, especially in the Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces and we are grateful for the transport medium which will assist us as we strive to mitigate COVID-19 in South Africa,” says Dr Kamy Chetty, NHLS Chief Executive Officer.

The request for assistance came during a call between Ministers Blok and Pandor to discuss a range of international issues, including the AU-EU partnership and the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministers exchanged their governments’ experiences in responding to the crisis and identified areas of additional cooperation and international assistance.

Minister Pandor indicated some areas where the international community could be of assistance to South Africa in these challenging times, including with respect to COVID-19 testing material. The Netherlands was in a position to secure and transport a substantial supply of GLY.

According to Mr Han Peters, Ambassador of Netherlands to South Africa, “It is essential that countries work together, look after each other and unite in these unprecedented times. COVID-19 does not discriminate. We are all at risk: young and old, rich and poor. We are seeing a worldwide shortage of medical resources to address this virus and as the Netherlands, and the European Union, we are in a privileged position to support our South African partners at this time.”

Minister Naledi Pandor expressed South Africa’s appreciation for the generous donation. ”South Africa and the Netherlands enjoy strong bonds of cooperation and friendship. This donation will assist in the fight against the coronavirus. I sincerely thank Minister Blok, the government and the people of the Netherlands for this swift response to our request for assistance.”

Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, South Africa