Roundup: Israel strives to boost COVID-19 testing capacity

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, March 19, 2020
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by Nick Kolyohin

JERUSALEM, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Israel is endeavoring to enhance its ability to 10,000 COVID-19 tests per day for its 9-million population while the current ceiling is about 2,000.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday on Israeli TV channel 12 that he requested to conduct in Israel 10,000 daily tests in two and a half weeks.

To find more test kits around the world, Netanyahu is using his personal relationships with world leaders, and the Israeli Ministry of Health and other governmental organizations are utilizing their resources.

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said on Wednesday that his ministry would launch a comprehensive procurement of essential medical equipment and transport it to Israel, in light of the growing needs of the state.

Magen David Adom, the national rescue organization of Israel, would help the country's endeavor of testing by opening soon "drive-through" testing stations around the country.

By Wednesday, about 10,000 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in Israel. Many Israeli companies, organizations, and universities are working to find innovative ways for testing.

The worldwide renowned Israeli Weizmann Institute of Science said the institution would offer its superior laboratories to perform coronavirus tests.

Weizmann runs a world-class research facility. Its laboratories have a number of cutting-edge devices capable of conducting speedy and sufficient identification of genes, according to the institute.

Moreover, scientists with the institute are developing a method with fewer stages compared with existing tests as well as reducing the biological risk to the working teams.

Another prominent innovation center, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, stated Wednesday it has successfully tested a method that will dramatically increase the current COVID-19 testing capacity of Israel with available resources.

Testing for COVID-19 is currently being conducted in Israel with a focus on people with specific symptoms. At the same time, the majority of the population don't go through medical examinations.

The current rate of testing does not allow for the monitoring of asymptomatic carriers, according to the Technion.

Technion's Pooling Method for Accelerated Testing of COVID-19 enables simultaneous testing of dozens of samples.

This special method examines the presence of a unique genetic sequence of viruses in a sample taken from the patient.

"People who are being tested now are the ones who are most likely to be carriers. But there are many hidden carriers. We need to start a massive diagnosis in the community," said Idan Yelin, who led the experiment with colleagues at Kishony laboratory in the Technion Faculty of Biology.

Moran Szwarcwort Cohen, director of the virology laboratory at Rambam health care campus that conducts part of the Israeli national COVID-19 tests, told Xinhua that unique knowledge and proficiency are needed for reaching accurate results.

Cohen said in an interview with Xinhua that boosting Israel's capabilities of running tests needs more equipment and a professional workforce at the laboratories. Enditem

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