Unpad BSL-3 Laboratory Begins Covid-19 Sample Test

Reported by Arif Maulana

[unpad.ac.id. 5/4/2020] Bio Safety Level 3 (BSL-3) Laboratory at the Central Laboratory, Universitas Padjadjaran, began to be used for testing Covid-19 samples, Monday (4/5) and planned to have 350 samples tested in the first batch this week.

The person in charge of the Covid-19 test, Lidya Chaidir, PhD, explained that the Covid-19 sample was a referral sample from a number of health service facilities and hospitals. For Monday (4/5) only, as many as 27 samples consisting of 7 samples from the Public Health Office, Bandung District and 20 samples from Sumedang Regional Hospital have been carried out a pre-analysis process in the form of sample pooling as well as checking the completeness of documents at the Klinik Pratama Akademik Unpad for testing in the BSL-3 Lab.

“Health care facilities and hospitals that want to send samples will be stored first at the Klinik Pratama Akademik Unpad,” Lidya said.

In the BSL-3 Lab, the sample will be extracted by RNA then entered into a real time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) stage. From this stage then analyzed to determine whether there is a virus that causes Covid-19. The extraction process for the first stage is still done manually by a laboratory assistant.

Furthermore, Lidya said, Unpad BSL-3 Lab itself consists of 3 lab facilities. For the first batch, the testing process will use one lab. This is adjusted to the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and limited supply of laboratory consumables.

“If operational assistance comes, we will activate the second and third labs but still manually. Ideally, if there is no obstacle for one day of work activity, we can calculate to test a maximum of 96 samples every day for one lab, “Lidya added.

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BSL-3 Lab itself already has robotic RNA extraction equipment. However, this tool has not yet been operated for the first batch of testing. Lidya explained, if this robot can operate, this tool will be able to test 192 samples per day.

Lidya is targeting, for now the results of the sample testing process per batch will be completed in 3 days. This is because, the testing process to obtain truly valid data requires a series of processes, both pre-analysis and post-analysis testing.

Furthermore, the results of the testing process will be reported in accordance with established procedures and stages. Test data will be sent by electronic mail to the sample sender’s health care facilities as well as to the National Institute of Health Research and Development, Indonesian Ministry of Health. Lidya ensures the confidentiality of the data to be sent.

Hopefully, this process will become the contribution of Unpad in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, Unpad has already a certified BSL-3 Lab making it possible to be used as a Covid-19 sample testing laboratory.

The Head of Central Laboratory of Universitas Padjadjaran, Prof. Dr. Unang Supratman, M.Sc., said that besides the facilities that could be utilized, this effort was also expected to be a scientific contribution of Unpad.

“We have the capability of PCR, extraction, the one that not everyone has,” he said.

Unpad BSL-3 Lab was built in 2018 funded by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). This lab is a special laboratory for research activities that require a high level of security, such as research on TB, MDR, HIV, and Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) causing Covid-19. Therefore, this lab applies high safety standards. Most of the laboratory equipment is supplied by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Investment of the Republic of Indonesia. (dkd)*

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