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BGI, Partners Establish Large-Scale Coronavirus Testing Lab in Wuhan

NEW YORK – BGI said on Thursday that it has opened an emergency coronavirus testing laboratory in Wuhan with a number of partners that began trial operations this week.

The Huo-Yan or "Fire Eye" laboratory, which is designed to test 10,000 samples per day for 2019-nCoV, was jointly established by the Wuhan municipal government, Wuhan East Lake High-Tech Development Zone, CCCC Second Harbor Engineering Company, Shanghai Nori Laboratory Equipment, and BGI.

While BGI led the design and is leading operations, East Lake High-Tech provided the site, Second Harbor Engineering led the construction, and Shanghai Nori contributed laboratory equipment.

Among other instrumentation, the lab is equipped with sequencers from BGI subsidiary MGI and 12 automated nucleic acid extraction platforms. It also received instrument donations from Xi'an Tianlong Technology and Tiangen Biochemical Technology, a donation of CNY 2 million ($290,000) from the Henan Youth Development Foundation for clinical testing and research, and a CNY 1 million donation from IDG Capital for the laboratory construction.

Last week, BGI said that it received emergency use approval from China's National Medical Products Administration for a 2019-nCoV reverse transcription qPCR rapid detection kit, a coronavirus metagenomic sequencing kit called PMseq, and its DNBSEQ-T7 sequencer and analysis software.

The new lab, which was essentially constructed in five days, will provide coronavirus testing for Wuhan and surrounding cities, supporting patient diagnosis and screening of high-risk groups.

BGI said that as of earlier this week, it had produced 300,000 coronavirus tests, which it has been distributing, in part with the support from authorities and charity organizations, to hospitals and labs in Wuhan and other cities, both inside and outside of the Hubei province.

It also said it is part of an anti-epidemic initiative, launched Feb. 1 and covering 22 provinces and cities in China, that includes more than 130 companies providing access to their laboratories, testing instrumentation, coronavirus tests, and well as tens of millions of yuan in funding.