MONTEVIDEO – A Uruguayan laboratory is manufacturing test tubes that store and transport COVID-19 swab samples effectively and guarantee accurate results.
In order to ensure PCR tests provide accurate results, the swab with which the nasopharyngeal sample is taken from a patient “must be placed in a viral transport medium that has the necessary requirement to ensure stability if the virus is present,” Laura Maccio, founder of Aravanlabs which manufactures these kits, tells EFE.
Test tubes need to provide an optimal environment for samples so that if the SARS-CoV-2 is present it arrives in perfect condition to the testing laboratory, the biologist adds.
According to Maccio, tubes must have a saline solution to buffer pH levels, proteins to provide stability and antibiotics that inhibit the development of other microorganisms.
It is important that the kits are manufactured in “adequate conditions” so that they are not contaminated and in rooms where particles in the air are “fully controlled.”
Uruguay decreed a health emergency on March 13 after registering four coronavirus cases.
A few days later, Aravanlabs realized the country would soon need these kits in order to test its population given the equipment would usually be imported from the United States, Europe and now China and South Korea.
“When international demand was so great that each country turned to internal production, the countries of our region were a little disadvantaged,” she says.
In early April, the company created its first batch, which it took to different Uruguayan institutions to verify the product’s efficiency and then launched into the production of 500 units per day, a figure that they expect to increase to 3,000 thanks to international demand, says the founder of the laboratory.
Aravanlabs has struck a contract with Eubiosis, a testing laboratory based in Uruguay, and has agreed to export to Chile, Argentina and Brazil.
The company is boosting foreign exports through the ProExport+ program and will trade the kits in Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and other Central American states.
Maccio says the kits are not expensive to manufacture and that with Uruguay’s “highly trained” workforce the country could pitch itself as a biotechnology provider on an international level.
Uruguay has recorded 625 cases and 15 deaths according to official data.