Pivoting in a Pandemic

Transforming Labs to Test for COVID-19 in Bangladesh

This blog post is part of Sabin’s Pivoting in a Pandemic series, which captures stories of extraordinary leaders who are adapting to advance research and public health in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Samir Saha and his team at Dhaka Shishu Hospital in Bangladesh typically spend their days researching pediatric infectious diseases, but when COVID-19 arrived in the country, that all changed. The scientists put all their research on hold to dedicate their time, lab and expertise to testing COVID-19 specimens.

Dr. Saha describes how his lab pivoted to become one of the first labs in Bangladesh to test for COVID-19, what the pandemic means for vaccination programs in the country, and lessons learned about infectious diseases moving forward.

Samir Saha, MD, MSc, is the head of the Diagnostic Division of Microbiology at the Bangladesh Institute of Child Health and executive director of the Child Health Research Foundation. Dr. Saha is known for his research on pediatric infectious diseases specializing in pneumonia, meningitis and enteric fever. Dr Saha and his team designed and set up four sentinel hospital surveillance networks in Bangladesh and have played a key role in implementing vaccines against meningitis and pneumonia in Bangladesh. He has published more than 150 papers on pneumonia and meningitis, and has won numerous internationally renowned awards in the field of microbiology.