Equipment for large-scale coronavirus testing lab arrives from China

The components of a lab to be established in Israel that will able to conduct over 12,000 coronavirus tests per day are expected to arrive this week.

Tens of thousands of coronavirus tests and processing equipment arrived from China after negotiations with Beijing Genomics Institute (photo credit: EL AL)
Tens of thousands of coronavirus tests and processing equipment arrived from China after negotiations with Beijing Genomics Institute
(photo credit: EL AL)
Tens of thousands of coronavirus tests and processing equipment arrived from China on Sunday night. The Foreign Ministry had negotiated with Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), a genome-sequencing company based in Shenzhen.
Several more deliveries, organized by BGI’s Israeli strategic partner AID Genomics, are expected to arrive in Israel in the coming days. They include coronavirus tests as well as equipment to manufacture RNA-COVID-19 tests.
In addition, the components of a lab to be established in Israel that will able to conduct more than 12,000 coronavirus tests daily are expected to arrive this week.
Chinese technicians who will build the lab are expected to depart for Israel on Tuesday. They have special permission to enter the country because the borders are closed to foreigners. The two-week mandatory self-quarantine for anyone entering from abroad will be waived for the group, which will carry certificates from Chinese authorities that they tested negative for COVID-19.
The Defense and Health ministries signed a NIS 90 million contract with BGI, the world’s largest DNA and genetics company, last month to bring the tests and the facility, which will drastically increase the number of Israelis checked for coronavirus daily. The components were supposed to arrive starting on April 9, but the delivery was stalled.
Israeli Ambassador to China Zvi Hefetz conducted negotiations with BGI CEO Ning Li to begin shipping parts of the lab to Israel.
Ning told the Foreign Ministry he is happy to cooperate with Israel and share the company’s experience in fighting coronavirus.
BGI has already sent 330,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to detect coronavirus to Israel within the framework of its partnership with AID Genomics.
“Israeli diplomats around the world are on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus and have been enlisted from the beginning of the crisis to attain essential and necessary equipment to fight the pandemic,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Sunday night.
“Thanks to the Foreign Ministry’s work, the State of Israel responds to coronavirus in the best way possible,” he added.
Last month, Israeli company MyHeritage announced it would work with BGI on the emergency testing facility, adding that it may be able to have an output of as much as 20,000 tests daily
The facility includes “dozens of advanced qPCR corona testing machines – the type of equipment used to detect RNA viruses, which allows the detection of even minimal amounts of the virus,” MyHeritage CEO and co-founder Gilad Japhet said. “The equipment also includes RNA extraction robots and large quantities of relevant equipment.”
A MyHeritage spokesman on Monday declined to comment about further developments.
Earlier this month, BGI and AID Genomics opened a lab in the Gaza Strip that can conduct up to 3,000 coronavirus tests per day.
Idan Zonshine contributed to this report.


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