Group 42, G42, the leading technology company based in Abu Dhabi, and global genomics leader BGI, announced on Tuesday (March 31, 2020) the launch of a new massive-throughput laboratory built to address the need for population-scale detection and diagnosis of COVID-19 in the United Arab Emirates.
The lab is capable of conducting tens of thousands real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, (RT-PCR) tests per day and is the first in the world of this scale to be operational outside of China.
The lab showcases the joint commitment of G42 and BGI to the leadership and people of the UAE, working with the nation to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The laboratory, located in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, was rapidly built and operationalised by G42 and BGI in only 14 days, providing an immediate solution to COVID testing scale-up needs in the UAE.
Proactively learning from the China experience in handling the COVID-19 crisis, the lab ensures that the UAE continues to lead the world as the most tested country per capita (according to the World Health Organisation, WHO).
Peng Xiao, CEO of G42, said: “This high throughput lab provides the scale and firepower to enable all people in Abu Dhabi and the UAE to access the most reliable PCR tests, which are also provided by G42 in partnership with BGI.
We thank the UAE leadership’s support in protecting the health and wellbeing of the country’s residents against this pandemic.” “In such challenging times, we feel compelled to leverage our expertise, technological resources and international partnerships to bring rapid, accurate testing capabilities on a massive scale and bolster the detection efforts led by authorities,” he continued.
This new processing capacity will enable a rapid response to the current outbreak by accelerating the diagnosis, identification of suspected cases, the release of recovered patients, and the screening of close contacts and high-risk groups.
RT-PCR diagnostic kits
The lab will utilize BGI’s RT-PCR diagnostic kits for the detection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. It is the only RT-PCR diagnostic kit that has received approvals from China (NMPA), Europe (CE-IVD), the United States (FDA) and the WHO.
G42 and BGI, whose partnership began in December 2019 with the announcement of the Population Genome Program by the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, have stepped up to the forefront in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
From the production of COVID-19 diagnostic kits to the supply of thermal sensors and medical goods, the two companies are deploying their expertise and technologies in support of international health authorities as they create effective prevention and detection protocols.
Wang Jian, Co-founder and Chairman of BGI Group, said: “Together with our partners at G42, we can bring the world’s best technology and experience in fighting global health threats to help the people of the UAE and beyond.”
The lab will prioritise testing within the UAE but could scale up to receive samples from neighboring regions. The partners also plan to enable cutting-edge monitoring of virus mutations and the ability to detect new pathogens in the future with high-throughput sequencing.