The COVID-19 pandemics is creating a catastrophic health situation in the world and in all European countries. Some European countries are suffering more than others. Italy had the largest number of victims after China. The Italian health infrastructures are overloaded. Increasing the number of reliable diagnostic tests of suspect cases is critical to reduce the spreading of the disease.
B-LiFE is deployed since 11 June up to 24 July 2020 in Italy, in the Piemonte Region, to bring additional mobile diagnostic test capabilities as well as training of local healthcare services to perform similar activities.
The mission is supported by the Luxembourg Government providing the high-performance capabilities of the GovSat-1 satellite, Institut Pasteur –Paris (France) with biologists who have been integrated to the B-LiFE deployed teams and the company Zentech (Liège, Belgium) which supplyed serelogic tests with a large discount and taking part to the COVID-19 Piemont B-LiFE study on the realization of the Smart Testing Strategy.
The first part of the mission was the preparation (including discussion with Italian Authorities, ordering extra analysis equipment and tests assays to perform screening actions). A large R&D investement has been made at UCLOUVAIN-CTMA to prepare and validated the testing strategy and methods.
The second part of the mission was the two months deployment in Piemonte providing diagnostic capabilites (RT-qPCR and antibodies fast testing) and training. Local healthcare personnel has been trained by the B-LiFE team to use the B-LiFE capabilities.
The major part of the testing was carried out in the hangar in Torino.
From 12 up to 20 July a team of 10 people moved to Novara to perform rapid testing and samples collection of the positive cases.
2 staff members came back every day from Novara to Torino to bring the positive case samples back to carry out the RT-qPCR analyses.
The third part of mission will be focused on remote monitoring and training of local healthcare personnel. B-LiFE specialists could be sent to continue to provide local support.
Deployed testing capacities was required for testing of:
– Medical Rescue Forces;
– Police Forces and Fire Brigades.
Serologic tests has been in first line performed. RT-qPCR was used for positive and uncertain cases.
The people to be tested in priority were Medical Rescue Forces and volunteers.
The B-LiFE laboratory was not split, but in order to increase the testing capabilities, additional qPCR testing equipment were brought.
B-LiFE brough autonomous telecommunication capacities (SatCom and terrestrial LTE systems). Although the telecommunication infrastructures in Piemonte are good, the autonomous SatCom and LTE systems was important for the field team to send the results in real-time.
The B-LiFE Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) was used for the management of samples and tests and to provide fast reporting to the health services.
B-LiFE epidemiological mapping capabilities was used. B-LiFE secure servers were also available in EONIX (Mons, Belgium) premises.