Spain exchanges information with 14 countries around the world about COVID-19

The Ministry of Science and Innovation is coordinating a process so that research centers and universities that meet biosafety requirements and have sufficient staff and supplies can collaborate in the diagnosis of COVID-19. For this it will be necessary for the Autonomous Communities (CCAA) to demand their support and for the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII) to evaluate their capacities and own resources to carry out PCR analysis on this type of viral samples.

So far, the ISCIII has already activated at least five centers and universities that had directly addressed the ISCIII and had the agreement of their autonomous community for their designation as support centers for the microbiological diagnosis of COVID-19. In addition, there are several in advanced stages of training. According to a first capacity statement coordinated by the Ministry of Science and Innovation, a total of 54 laboratories from 27 universities could meet the minimum requirements to carry out these analyzes, but it will be necessary to confirm issues related to the availability of material and security elements. .

To start this process, the Ministry of Science and Innovation approached research centers and universities, through the Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities (CRUE), to gather information on their diagnostic capabilities.

The Carlos III Health Institute will work with the centers that request it in the validation of the requirements that must be met in order to carry out these analyzes, which must have biosafety and specialization conditions that are not within the reach of all laboratories. . Specifically, the centers must have personnel trained in molecular biology techniques; ability to work with level 2 infectious samples, biosafety cabinet and adequate equipment; ability to produce inactivating reagents; ability to have extraction techniques by their own means; ability to perform PCR by own means or by commercial kits, and trained personnel to validate clinical analysis reports.

In the event that they do not have these personnel, the validation must be carried out by a hospital or the public health services of the autonomous community. As they have legal effects, the tests must be validated by collegiate health personnel.

The centers will send this training request to the ISCIII, after informing and requesting compliance to the health authorities of the corresponding autonomous community, which is the administration that has information on the health centers that may need support. Once all the information has been received, the ISCIII will analyze the biosafety, inactivation, extraction and PCR procedures and will approve them if they comply with the diagnostic procedures of the COVID-19. In this case, the autonomous communities will activate the trained centers, providing them with the samples that need to be analyzed.

It is anticipated that the support of these infrastructures could be especially important in the medium term, after the period of confinement, to support the network of health centers if necessary to guarantee early and accurate diagnosis to all citizens.

Apart from this process, another very efficient way of collaborating in the diagnosis of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is the temporary transfer of equipment for installation in hospital microbiology laboratories. This option has already been implemented with the National Center for Oncological Research (CNIO), which has transferred four PCR machines to the microbiology laboratories of the La Paz Hospital and the Gregorio Marañón Hospital.

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