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Pioneering Automated COVID-19 Test Robot Can Process 20,000 Samples for SARS-CoV-2 Testing Per 24 Hours

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 04 Feb 2021
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Image: Pioneering Automated COVID-19 Test Robot Can Process 20,000 Samples for SARS-CoV-2 Testing Per 24 Hours (Photo courtesy of Hubrecht Institute)
Image: Pioneering Automated COVID-19 Test Robot Can Process 20,000 Samples for SARS-CoV-2 Testing Per 24 Hours (Photo courtesy of Hubrecht Institute)
A new COVID-19 test robot can process up to 20,000 samples for SARS-CoV-2 testing per 24 hours, making it much faster than all other systems used to date.

The robot, called STRIP-1, developed by scientists at the Hubrecht Institute (Utrecht, the Netherlands) and Genmab (Copenhagen, Denmark) can not only process more tests in less time than any other machine known to date, but can also track all samples precisely, because they have a barcode that is scanned multiple times throughout the process. This also enables an automatic online return of test results to the tested persons. Because STRIP-1 can work with very small volumes, it uses less of the materials that are currently very scarce across the world. The costs per test will also be much lower than current testing costs. Lastly, using STRIP-1 will relieve overloaded laboratory personnel.

After successfully going through the validation procedure, the robot will be used for large scale testing. The Dutch government plans to order five more of such robots in the future, if the validation procedure indeed delivers the expected results. Together, these robots will be able to process more than 100,000 samples per 24 hours. The robots are not only useful during the current COVID-19 pandemic, but due to their modular structure, they can also be used for future pandemics. This enables large scale testing immediately, without overloading the regular diagnostic laboratories.

“While we were working on this, we realized that the gold standard of tests, the PCR test, works extremely well and that the biggest challenge was the logistics of it all,” said Wouter de Laat, one of the initiators of the project. “We hoped that we could organize everything in a faster and more intelligent way by using robots, so that became our focus almost immediately.”

Related Links:
Hubrecht Institute
Genmab


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