EU’s Joint Research Centre develops control to help prevent #Coronavirus test failures

| April 1, 2020

European Commission scientists have designed new control material that laboratories can use to check the correct functioning of their coronavirus tests and to avoid false negatives, samples are being sent to labs across Europe and can be used for as many as 60 million tests.

The new control material was developed in the JRC’s laboratories in Geel, Belgium.
©EU 2020

Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Mariya Gabriel, responsible for the Joint Research Centre (JRC), said: “This is EU science in action when it is needed and where it is needed, to support the EU’s response to the current crisis. The JRC quickly identified a potential gap in the management of the coronavirus outbreak. The new control material [helps]avoid valuable resources being wasted by inefficient tests.”

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said: “Quick and reliable laboratory testing is fundamental to our strategy against coronavirus. The work of EU scientists to develop test control material will enable the verification of up to 60 million laboratory tests throughout the EU. This is a major achievement by our researchers, which will be crucial for our exit strategy when the time comes to start lifting social distancing measures.”

A survey by the EU’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention identified the lack of positive control materials as one of the top three challenges faced by laboratories for the reliable implementation of coronavirus tests. The control allows laboratories to verify that tests are working correctly, avoiding the problem of false-negative tests.

3,000 samples to check 60 million tests

3,000 samples of the control material are being dispatched today (1 April) to testing laboratories across the EU. The samples are highly concentrated and only a very small quantity of the material is required to check one test. This means that one sample tube is enough for one laboratory to check up to 20,000 tests. Thus the 3,000 samples that are now ready make it possible to check up to 60 million tests throughout the EU.

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