Science - March 31, 2020

1500 additional corona tests per day

Text:
Tessa Louwerens

Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) has started testing for the coronavirus in Dutch patients today. The laboratory is capable of performing 1500 tests per day, a significant increase in the Netherlands’ testing capacity.

Photo: A technician from Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) working with the MagNAPure. ©WBVR

Previously, the laboratory was able to test for corona using the MagNaPure (zie foto), a device used for testing animals. As of today, a new device is in use, the Kingfisher. With this equipment, the testing capacity is increased substantially, doubling the testing capacity in the Netherlands. Last week, minister Hugo de Jonge wrote a letter to parliament stating that approximately 2000 tests are performed per day in the Netherlands. Today, WVBR ran diagnostics on the first samples, originating from the Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital in Nijmegen. 

Within regular business hours, the staff at the WBVR could run about 500 tests per day. However, if the lab works 24/7, this number would rise to 1500 tests per day. WUR is currently training extra laboratory technicians, and Wageningen Food Safety Research has also made well-trained technicians available.

In the same letter to parliament, the minister expresses concern over the global scarcity of certain raw materials and resources needed for testing. At this time, WVBR has sufficient resources in stock. The Kingfisher has enough resources to execute 14,000 tests, and WVBR director Ludo Hellebrekers indicated to NOS news channel that more resources are readily available. For MagNA Pure, the laboratory depends on the production of additional materials by pharmaceuticals company Roche. This company made the news last week after Follow the Money revealed that the Swiss pharmaceuticals company refused to divulge the recipe for the testing liquid. This recipe has since been made available.

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