The Public Health Center of the Ukraine Ministry of Health (UPHC) is collaborating with Ginkgo Bioworks to conduct a wastewater testing pilot program in Ukraine. The launch of the pilot program for wastewater-based pathogen monitoring is aimed to support critical public health needs and will help provide early warning for infectious disease outbreaks and enable rapid and strategic public health intervention.

The UPHC is a healthcare institution responsible for maintaining and strengthening public health, social and hygienic monitoring of diseases, epidemiological surveillance and biological safety, group and population prevention of morbidity, epidemic control, and strategic management in the field of public health.

The risk of infectious diseases spreading in Ukraine has increased amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the strain on health infrastructure due to the war.

Through this partnership, Ginkgo is building upon the large-scale pathogen monitoring platform developed by its biosecurity and public health unit, Concentric by Ginkgo, to implement an on-the-ground biosecurity program for monitoring of biological threats found in critical wastewater systems. The program can be utilized to address biosecurity gaps during acute moments of crisis, where public health infrastructure has been affected by adverse circumstances.

“The simultaneous impacts of the war, the destruction of our health infrastructure, and the COVID-19 pandemic among other pathogens, have increased the Ukrainian people’s exposure to biosecurity risks,” noted Oksana Koshalko, head of the department of organization of epidemiological surveillance of the Public Health Center of the Ukraine Ministry of Health. “We are dedicated to working hard to support our people’s well-being as well as minimizing all risks and safeguarding public health through these extreme circumstances. Working with Concentric allows us to leverage innovative solutions to support our health system and our citizens’ well-being during a time of uncertainty.”

This pilot program is aimed at providing the Ukraine Ministry of Health and other public health authorities with continuous data on pathogens like SARS-CoV-2 and influenza in order to inform decisions to help reduce the infectious disease burden on the Ukrainian population and healthcare infrastructure. In preparation for launching the planned pilot this winter, Concentric will coordinate with a Ukraine-based partner to design and manage program operations in selected urban centers.

“The current crisis in Ukraine and the targeted destruction of its healthcare infrastructure underscore the need for rapid biosecurity response capabilities that can be deployed globally. Ginkgo recognizes the urgency around establishing an early warning system for pathogens that can help mitigate the strain that infectious disease can cause in vulnerable settings,” said Matt McKnight, general manager, biosecurity at Ginkgo Bioworks.