Clínic Barcelona. Hospital Universitari
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April, 28 2020

COVID-19 Test

Welcome, all of you

On 25th February 2020, the first case of SARS-Cov-2 in Spain (peninsular) was diagnosed in the Microbiology department of our hospital. Since then, in less than 2 months, the laboratory has processed and validated 26,200 samples for the diagnosis of COVID19. At this time, between 1,000 and 1,500 samples per day are being processed. In order to meet this demand, the microbiology laboratory has been restructured into administrative, technical and facultative levels and works 24 hours a day (7 days a week).

To date, 4 workflows have been optimised and they are normally used simultaneously in order to diagnose SARS-Cov-2 infection. This diagnosis consists of the amplification of SARS-Cov-2 genes using real-time PCR techniques. These are not rapid tests and require a minimum processing time of 7 hours, which includes recording, pre-analytic processing of the sample (including sample inactivation and nucleic acid extraction), RT_PCR and facultative validation of the result. At different times of the day, where large volumes of samples arrive, this time can be extended.

Use of rapid tests

The main objective of our laboratory is the introduction of rapid diagnostic tests to speed up the management of patients and to identify the presence/absence of the virus. In this context, we wanted to emphasize that in rapid antigen testing (test code: TRCO) even being quite specific, the sensitivity is low and insufficient to rule out the disease. Therefore, after evaluating the usefulness of the test with the hospital’s emergency department, it has been decided not to include this test in the diagnostic algorithm. On the other hand, new rapid tests based on the detection of PCR will be introduced soon in order to short substantially the response time in those patients who need it.

The most expected robots...

Most of the diagnostic platforms that we have now in our laboratory for the diagnosis of SARS-Cov-2 are already robotized. The acquisition of the "new robots" will help to increase the number of samples processed and the diversification of workflows, which is essential as an alternative in case of failure on the other platforms or risk of lack of reagents. However, the impact that these robots will have on the response time will be minimal. These robots are being developed for use.

Thank you all so much!

Dr. Antoni Castells, Director Médico

Dra. Aurea Mira, directora CDB

Dr. Jordi Vila, Jefe de Servicio de Microbiología


Biomedical Diagnostic Center (CDB)

Villarroel, 170 · 08036 Barcelona
Tel: +34 93 227 54 64 · Fax: +34 93 227 98 75 · ·