"Although epidemiological measures are being slowly eased, diagnostics remains a basic necessity in the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic, and we assume that this need will last for several more months. That is why we have decided to increase our capacity and thus we are prepared for a possible next outbreak of the disease," explains Libor Grubhoffer, Director of the Biology Centre, CAS.
The laboratory was established at the Institute of Plant Molecular Biology, the Plant virology department. Within the last 3 years, scientists here discovered more than 20 new viruses which infect not only the economically important crops but also other species. "Methods of working with plant viruses are 99 percent the same as with coronavirus, the hygienic safety conditions bring the most important change. We don't usually work with clinical material, that´s why we had to adapt the laboratory as well as the work procedures," said a virologist Igor Koloňuk, who leads the new testing team. The laboratory went through construction modifications, it was hermetically separated from the ventilation system in the building and a new hygienic loop was built. The laboraty was also equipped with a new laboratory devices (a biohazard flow box BSL2, a centrifuge and an autoclave) to meet the required hygiene and safety standards.
In addition to the diagnosis of hospital samples, the Biology Centre focuses on the research of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and develops a methodology for analyzing the quality of antibodies in the blood of treated patients. Virologists are also involved in several other projects concerning options for more effective diagnosis and treatment of Covid-19.
A new laboratory for testing clinical samples for coronavirus. Virologists are wearing new czech masks of the highest quality and safety FFP3. Credit: Biology Centre CAS
Involvement of the Biology Centre CAS, in the fight against coronavirus in dates:
On March 19, 2020, the BC CAS (Institute of Parasitology) was authorized to test samples for coronavirus.
Since March 23, 2020, BC CAS was testing samples from patients, with a daily capacity of 100 tests.
On March 25, 2020, the BC CAS was authorized to studyi coronavirus and begun the research of the coronavirus.
On April 22, 2020, the BC CAS (Institute of Plant Molecular Biology) was authorized to test samples for coronavirus.
Since 11 May 2020, the maximal daily capacity of the BC CAS is 150 tests. If necessary, it can be extended up to 200 samples per day.