Sanquin supports nation-wide testing on COVID-19

Sanquin Diagnostics and the Sanquin National Screening Laboratory (NSS), both part of Sanquin, are now coming to the rescue in testing care providers for corona infection. This is done with the so-called PCR test on COVID-19. This test investigates the presence of the coronavirus.

When appointing Feike Sybesma as special envoy fort he corona cisis, Hugo de Jonge, Minister of Health, admitted that he would like to see more people in the Netherlands being tested for the coronavirus, but that he lacks the capacity to actually do so. 

More tests carried out

Materials and equipment have been made available in Sanquin's laboratories in order to be able to carry out up to 3600 tests per day. These tests will be carried out on personnel working in the broad field of healthcare. In this way Sanquin contributes to the national emergency plan that aims for testing more care workers for possible corona infection.

This concerns, for example, nurses, hospital and cleaning staff, ambulance staff, midwives, GPs and nursing homes staff. When they have  symptoms, they often remain untested, which makes it unclear whether they should go to work again. While at this moment, maximal participation of our healthcare workers is of utmost importance.

Available capacity

In the past few weeks, a shortage of reagents and supporting materials led to a shortage of test capacity in the Netherlands. Sanquin has a stock of supporting materials available to carry out the PCR test. The only thing Sanquin still needs are sufficient supplies of certain reagents and buffers from Roche Diagnostics. It is now being discussed with them how this can be supplied.

Thanks to the use of Sanquin's newly delivered test equipment with high capacity, extra manpower and the right database links to quickly communicate results digitally, the Dutch test capacity for the COVID-19 virus expands enormously in one go. The result will be that more people in care quickly know whether or not they are infected, so that there is less chance of infecting others and they can continue to carry out their care tasks.

Care comes first

Sanquin will start conducting the first tests at the end of this week. This testing is not carried out in connection with the blood supply in the Netherlands. Its purpose is supporting the national medical care. We are grateful to be able to contribute. The most important thing is that care workers and patients receive results about a possible corona infection. However, donors are not tested by Sanquin for the presence of the corona virus.

We understand very well that a test result could give donors a lot of reassurance, but testing of donors is not possible. Not only is there not enough test material or capacity available to test 342,000 donors in addition to the aforementioned extensive target group. It is also an unsuitable test for blood donors. The PCR test checks for actual corona infections in persons who indicate that they have health problems. If donors have health problems, they are not allowed to donate anyway. It would be a waste to use PCR tests on healthy donors.

Third initiative

This is Sanquin's third initiative to help controling the corona virus. Sanquin previously published about its own research activities into corona antibodies in blood. This concerns research into herd immunity in the Dutch population, and support for research into the deployability of antibodies from the plasma of recovered corona patients. ‚Äč