As widely reported in the media, a new coronavirus has been identified in China, which is currently being called “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV.” Building on BGI’s history of developing solutions for rapid pathogen detection, BGI has developed a real-time fluorescent RT-PCR kit for detecting the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. The kits have already been issued to many hospitals and disease control centers.
On January 24, BGI announced that it would donate 10,000 new coronavirus detection kits to Wuhan. The first batch of kits is currently in the process of being distributed. BGI has also established an emergency command center to fully mobilize production forces to expand the manufacturing capacity of kits, with production staff working overtime over the Chinese New Year holidays to produce the kits.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can circulate among many animals species, including camels, cats and bats. Rarely, novel animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people such as seen with MERS and SARS. 2019-nCoV is a new strain of virus that has not been previously identified in humans.
In response to this situation, and immediately after the occurrence of unexplained pneumonia in Wuhan on December 31, 2019, BGI successfully developed a Real-Time Fluorescent RT-PCR kit for detecting 2019-nCoV, which can issue results in a few hours.
BGI has been working with relevant Chinese authorities including the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, through which the kits have been issued to various hospitals and local disease control centers. BGI is also engaged with relevant organizations in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the Brunei Ministry of Health, the Thailand Ministry of Public Health, the National Medical Research Center of Nigeria (NIMR), the National Institute of Infectious Diseases of the National Health Laboratory of South Africa (NICD), to supply the test kits and offer additional pathogen detection solutions using next generation sequencing technology.
The development of the 2019-nCoV detection kit builds upon BGI’s previous experience developing rapid diagnostic solutions for pathogen detection. For example, in April 2003, BGI successfully sequenced the SARS virus in less than 20 hours, and developed an enzyme immunoassay test kit in 96 hours. In 2011, BGI successfully and rapidly developed a free diagnostic kit for the Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia Coli (EHEC) epidemic that broke out in Germany. All scientific data and information was made immediately and openly available to the international community, laying an important scientific foundation to control the epidemic.
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