COVID-19 and Beyond: Safety and Design Considerations for the Development of a Mobile Biocontainment Laboratory

Linster M.,
Ng B.,
Vijayan V.
Document Type
Source Title
Applied Biosafety
SAGE Publications Inc.


Introduction: An infectious disease outbreak like the current COVID-19 pandemic can lead to particularly high infection rates in areas where diagnostic laboratory support is limited. The deployment of mobile laboratories can help to detect pathogens, monitor the presence in a population, and inform public health authorities to take measures aimed at reducing pathogen spread. Materials and Methods: Available layouts and operational descriptions of mobile laboratories were analyzed for their suitability for the envisioned purpose and to assure high standards of biosafety and biosecurity. Recent media coverage on creative solutions for the diagnostics of SARS-CoV-2 (drive-through test centers, self-swab, inverse gloveboxes to protect health care workers) from various countries were considered. Results: A minimalistic and optimized design to construct a multifunctional laboratory on the chassis of a regular-sized box truck is proposed and can serve as a blueprint to rapidly develop additional diagnostic capacities. Discussion: For acute health threats including the current COVID-19 outbreak, rapid diagnosis of infection is key to recommend measures aimed at preventing the spread of the pathogen. Laboratory layouts that are similar to the one proposed here are used in stationary setups, and mobile laboratories have been built on varying platforms (trailers, shipping containers, etc). © ABSA International 2020.

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