Lab in Abu Dhabi will analyse Dutch corona tests

The material from people who are being tested for the coronavirus at the GGD will soon be sent to Abu Dhabi for analysis. The deal between the Dutch lab Saltro, a sister lab in Abu Dhabi, and the Ministry of Health is almost complete.

The Saltro company confirms the message. Earlier this morning, a spokesman stated that it was a lab in Dubai, but he is coming back from that now. It appears to be a lab in another city-state in the United Arab Emirates.

In the meantime, a special airlift has been set up to get the cotton swabs containing genetic material from the Dutch into Abu Dhabi. From Schiphol it takes about six hours to cover the 5,000 kilometres.

Minister De Jonge van Volksgezondheid said yesterday in the House of Representatives that he wants to conclude the contract because of the shortage of testing capacity in the Netherlands. “In a normal situation I would not have concluded that contract. But in this situation I say yes, we are going to do it anyway” Incidentally, De Jonge also spoke erroneously about Dubai instead of Abu Dhabi.

Thousands of tests from the Utrecht region

An internal mail from Saltro (.pdf) in the possession of the CCeit shows that the first materials are already being sent to Abu Dhabi today. It concerns material from people who had themselves tested in the test street in Woerden. “If necessary, this can be extended with material from other GGD test streets”, says the mail.

It probably concerns material from thousands of people a day. Saltro has a contract with the Municipal Health Service (GGD) in the Utrecht region for the analysis of corona tests.

Both in Abu Dhabi and Dubai there are labs of the Swiss company Unilabs. Saltro’s Dutch laboratories are also part of this lab giant.

The fact that the ministry is looking for alternatives to analysing corona-virus tests is part of the scaling up of test capacity. Previously, contracts were already concluded with commercial labs in Germany and Belgium.

Figures announced yesterday by GGD director Sjaak de Gouw show that 10,000 people cannot get a corona-virus test every day. According to the GGD, this is due to a lack of sufficient test materials at the labs. In October, sufficient test capacity is expected to test everyone with complaints that month, and for the months after that much is still uncertain.

The House of Representatives has strongly criticised Minister De Jonge for the lack of test capacity. Members of Parliament say that the minister has had months to put things in order, but that this has not succeeded.