The sum of all these laboratories allows more than 5,000 daily PCRs to be performed, which represents an important boost to the diagnostic capacity in Spain for the management of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. Several other centers are in the training phase, so this number will continue to grow in the coming days.
Since the need to reinforce the diagnostic capacity was detected, the ISCIII has carried out an analysis and selection process to ensure that the collaborating centers comply with the biosafety requirements and have the appropriate personnel and procedures to carry out these tests.
The 24 laboratories validated by the ISCIII to collaborate in the PCR diagnosis of the COVID-19 correspond to universities and biomedical, military and veterinary research centers. They provide support to hospitals in their community and, in some cases, to universities, reference centers, residences, and State Security Forces and Bodies.
The centers already validated are the following:
- University of Alcalá de Henares.
- Animal Health Research Center (CISA).
- Complutense University of Madrid.
- Military Veterinary Center of Madrid.
- University of Leon.
- Regional Animal Health Laboratory of León.
- Biolab-Arcelormittal R&D Center of Asturias.
- University of La Laguna, University of Valladolid.
- Foundation for the Promotion of Health and Biomedical Research of the Valencian Community (FISABIO).
- Castilla-La Mancha university.
- Rapid Identification Laboratory (LABIR) of the Military Emergency Unit (UME).
- The University of the Basque Country.
- Marqués de Valdecilla Health Research Institute-University of Cantabria.
- National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC).
- Institute of Health Sciences of Talavera de la Reina.
- La Fe Health Research Institute of Valencia.
- Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA) -University of Navarra.
- Institute of Biomedical Research of Salamanca-University of Salamanca-Mixed Institute USAL-CSIC.
- Miguel Servet y Navarra Foundation for Health Services and Technologies-Navarrabiomed.
- Scientific and Technical Research Area (ACTI) -University of Murcia.
- Biodonostia Health Research Institute.
- Institute of Biomedicine of Seville.
- Institute of Hunting Studies of Ciudad Real.
The center validation process is carried out as follows: firstly, the autonomous communities confirm the need for diagnostic support; As of that moment, the request for collaboration comes from the centers themselves interested in collaborating, in coordination with the autonomous and central governments. Subsequently, the center sends its training request to the ISCIII, which analyzes the biosafety, inactivation, extraction and PCR procedures and, if the requirements are met, gives the go-ahead. Finally, it is the autonomous communities themselves that activate the centers and provide them with the samples that need to be analyzed.
Since the start of the pandemic, the scientific community has shown great interest in collaborating in all the processes and initiatives that improve the management of the virus and the disease. Despite this notable predisposition to add support, it must be remembered that not all the centers that are offered meet the necessary conditions to carry out this work. Therefore, the selection and approval of laboratories is always guided according to the identified needs and always complying with the necessary criteria of safety and capacity.
The increase in capacity is already allowing an improvement in the coverage of diagnostic needs. Their work will be even more relevant in the short and medium term, when the progressive social opening measures come into force and the network of health centers of the National Health System needs support to carry out more diagnostic studies among the Spanish population.
Requirements to collaborate
The necessary requirements for a center to receive validation are the following:
- Have staff trained in molecular biology techniques.
- Have the ability to work with level 2 infectious samples, a biosafety cabinet and adequate equipment.
- Have the capacity to produce inactivation reagents.
- Manage extraction techniques by their own means that do not subtract capacities from hospital centers.
- To be able to carry out PCR by own means or through commercial kits.
- Have trained personnel to validate clinical analysis reports; If they do not have this service, the validation is carried out by a hospital, health personnel or the public health services of the autonomous community.