A specialized laboratory in Abu Dhabi is ramping up its daily Covid-19 testing capacity to 35,000 samples as screening for the virus continues a war-footing.
UAE-based Pure Health manages 117 labs across the country. It operates the UAE’s largest testing capacity lab in Mafraq Hospital, next to Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City.
The highly secured lab, which was set up in under two weeks in March, started with 10,000 tests a day and is now raising its capacity as per requirement, said Pure Health area laboratory manager Mati Ur Rehman Khan, as Khaleej Times toured the facility.
“We are the largest lab operator in the region. We have been providing Covid-19 testing services in the UAE from day one. Our lab in Abu Dhabi could be the largest testing facility of its kind in the region. It houses the largest number of nucleic acid extraction and purification systems along with real-time PCR platforms. The lab operates 24X7 with 120 experienced medical staff. We have over 110 equipment installations. Our turnaround time, we call it TAT, is 24 hours. All these aspects enable us to perform 35,000 tests a day.”
All test results are systematically updated online with the local health authorities.
Khan noted that the facility is equipped with the latest technology, which will bolster early detection capabilities and assist in conducting 50,000 tests soon.
“The lab is utilizing the power of molecular diagnostics through real-time PCR methodology, which is the only recommended Covid-19 testing method by international health authorities, being an important diagnostic tool to detect coronavirus accurately with high sensitivity and specificity. We will increase the capacity up to 50,000 PCR tests per day with additional instruments in the near future.”
Khan added Pure Health is going to implement immunoassay technology for the determination of antibodies to SARS-CoV2 in human serum or plasma samples within the coming weeks as it has received the equipment and reagents to perform these tests.
“These assays will be intended as an aid in the diagnosis of Covid-19 and to support the study of the immune status of an infected patient. This will help in controlling the existing pandemic and reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 through targeted measures.”
Khan said they have almost doubled the headcount of medical staff across departments to manage the demand.
“Earlier, we had 15 accessioners, we have over 30 now. And the same is the case with the number of technologists. We have also moved to a bigger sample receiving area. When we raise the capacity to 50,000, we can use both old and new areas. Also, there is room for further expansion of the lab.”
The team of professionals from various emirates is stationed in Abu Dhabi for months now.
“They are away from their family. But this is for a bigger cause. All are ready to serve until this battle is won.”