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COVID-19 Media Coverage

Duke-NUS COVID-19 Update

At Duke-NUS Medical School, teamwork and collaboration are a hallmark of our fight against COVID-19.

Our scientists have been at the forefront of the response to the pandemic since it first erupted. A team from our Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) programme was among the first in the world to isolate the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19, after counterparts in China and Australia. This critical breakthrough was the outcome of a strong collaboration between Duke-NUS, the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre (AMC), the Singapore General Hospital, the National Centre for Infectious Diseases and the Ministry of Health, Singapore.

The team, led by Professor Wang Linfa from the EID programme, successfully cultured the virus from patient samples early in the outbreak investigation and developed serological antibody tests to identify an important missing link between three major COVID-19 clusters in Singapore. Their research was featured in news headlines around the world and received public commendations by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

For his contributions to the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, Professor Ooi Eng Eong, also from the EID programme, was one of six individuals collectively called “the virus busters” who were named Asians of the Year by The Straits Times in 2020. Prof Ooi was also among five individuals who received the Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award on behalf of all COVID-19 frontline workers and volunteers. This award recognises Singaporeans who have made an impact—individually or as a group—on society.

For her contributions to national COVID-19 research workgroup, Dr Chia Wanni, a research fellow in Prof Wang’s lab, represented Duke-NUS at the National Medical Excellence Awards where the COVID-19 Research Workgroup received an NMEA Team Award. She shared the award with Professor Lisa Ng, representing A*STAR, and Drs David Lye and Barnaby Young, representing the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.

Sample of the COVID-19 virus
Prof Wang Linfa and cPass test kit
Research assistant Ong Xin Mei, Professor Wang Linfa, and research assistant Lim Beng Lee with the cPass test kits
Breakthrough COVID-19 saliva Amplified Antigen Rapid Test is as sensitive as PCR test

Dean's Message


Dean Thomas Coffman

COVID-19 continues to challenge us in unexpected ways. As a research-intensive medical school, Duke-NUS is facing these challenges with fierce determination. Our faculty, staff and students are each in their own way doing their part to fight this pandemic. Our clinical faculty across the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other selfless healthcare workers on the frontlines caring for patients. At the same time, our scientists have been on the research frontlines since Day One as one of the first groups in the world to culture SARS-CoV-2 from patient samples and to develop antibody-based serological tests for epidemiological tracing. For their contributions, they have received commendations and accolades. We have created this special web page to highlight their latest findings and contributions.

Duke-NUS was and continues to be in an ideal position to assist in the national response to COVID-19 as a direct result of vision and foresight of the Singapore government and our early school leaders who established the Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) programme as a part of Duke-NUS after it was founded in 2005, not long after the SARS outbreak in 2003. Since its inception, the EID programme has integrated the surveillance of new and emerging pathogens with the development of novel treatments, prevention and control strategies to protect public health. The establishment of our ABSL3 facility in 2013 provided a safe environment for isolating and studying dangerous pathogens like SARS-CoV-2, a requisite step for developing vaccines and cures.

These are trying times, but Duke-NUS will continue to work tirelessly toward developing solutions for COVID-19, exploiting our cutting-edge research capabilities across partnerships with our colleagues at the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre and collaborators in Singapore and around the world. In their efforts, our researchers and collaborators have brought forth many innovative ways to combat COVID-19, from the creation of a neutralising antibody test kit to the development of a novel mNRA SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Here, we have collated the ongoing efforts at Duke-NUS that address the COVID-19 pandemic, along with links to other useful information. I invite you to have a look. And please contact us if you would be interested in making a donation to support our impactful COVID-19 work.


Professor Thomas M. Coffman

Press Releases

Duke-NUS scientists shed new light on key differences in immune response to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines

New comparative study by Duke-NUS and NCID provides insight on the rise of Omicron

Duke-NUS study highlights blind spot in SARS-CoV-2 immunity research, suggests breakthrough infection may confer extra protection to vaccinees

Breakthrough COVID-19 saliva Amplified Antigen Rapid Test is as sensitive as PCR test

A simple T-cell test to show the full picture of body’s immune response to COVID-19

Research Publications

Amplified parallel antigen rapid test for point-of-care salivary detection of SARS-CoV-2 with improved sensitivity

Rapid measurement of SARS-CoV-2 spike T cells in whole blood from vaccinated and naturally infected individuals

Pan-Sarbecovirus Neutralizing Antibodies in BNT162b2-Immunized SARS-CoV-1 Survivors

Dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibody responses and duration of immunity: a longitudinal study

Highly functional virus-specific cellular immune response in asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection