DTU assists in the fight against coronavirus

The Center for Diagnostik DTU is now upgrading its efforts and examining all positive samples for the new variants.

Denmark and the world have been challenged by several different corona varieties, which are more aggressive and contagious than the one we became acquainted with a year ago.

An essential weapon in the fight against corona is to have in-depth knowledge of the techniques used to investigate viruses, including the mutations it occurs with, and scale up capacity quickly. Therefore, DTU has now agreed with the Danish Region’s crisis management to examine all its positive samples for all known variants.

“The agreement includes sequencing positive samples from DTU’s pipeline (samples from Ålborg Hospital, Slagelse and the Capital Region of Denmark) and the Capital Region’s own laboratories. Initially, we assess the capacity requirement at 400 daily positive tests – but we have the opportunity to scale up,” says Head of development Helene Larsen from the Center for Diagnostics DTU.

The agreement eases the pressure on the hospitals in the Capital Region – especially at Rigshospitalet, which has experienced a marked bustle in their laboratory in recent months.

“It is important to us that there are partners, such as DTU, who can alleviate the pressure the health system is experiencing at this time so that we can focus our efforts on fighting coronavirus in all its variants. Therefore, we are pleased that DTU has bid for the task,” says Sophie Hæstorp Andersen (S), Chairman of the Regional Council, Capital Region of Denmark.

A vital contribution to infection detection and containment

The Center for Diagnostik has long ago reorganized many laboratory facilities to deal with the analysis of Covid-19 samples primarily. At the beginning of the new year, the centre topped 800,000 test results, included in the ongoing corona monitoring from Statens Serum Institut (SSI).

DTU has developed a fast and cheap procedure for sequencing the virus variants—shared with the hospitals and SSI. The test results from DTU’s sequencing are already included as a natural part of infection detection and containment of the infection with new, more infectious variants.

The new task of daily sequencing of 100-400 positive samples requires additional resources.

“We are now scaling up equipment and personnel and thus laboratory facilities so that we can handle this task as well. It requires strict coordination to ensure a short response time to notification of corona variants. This answer must be available as soon as possible after the positive test result for COVID-19,” says Helene Larsen.

The general COVID-19 diagnostics and sequencing of the variants occur at DTU around the clock, seven days a week. Since April, the Center for Diagnostik has handled the received samples with excellent response times.

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