Global genomics developer, BGI Group has produced more than 10 million of its Real-Time SARS-CoV-2 tests, which are approved under US FDA-EUA, and is distributing them to more than 80 countries around the world. BGI Group is also helping partners to set up emergency testing laboratories in the US, Europe, Middle East and Asia, bringing population-scale detection and diagnosis of COVID-19 to the world.
BGI Group is meeting the demand for testing kits by trebling production and working with governments to launch emergency laboratory solutions.
MGI, part of the BGI Group, confirmed an agreement with the French Health Ministry to provide equipment and materials to 19 hospitals throughout France to enable COVID-19 testing of 2 million people, while BGI Genomics confirmed it will provide 1 million RT-PCR tests for diagnosis of COVID-19.
BGI Genomics is one of the few companies globally that has products recognized as officially approved for use in China, the European Union, the United States, Japan and Australia. BGI’s RT-PCR Test for SARS-CoV-2 has been granted approval for emergency use by the US FDA, Europe’s CE-IVD, China’s NMPA, Japan’s PMDA and Australia’s TGA. BGI Genomics has donated over 130,000 test kits, while partner organizations have donated another 178,000 of the test kits.
“The most critical thing for all of us at BGI is to help bring this pandemic under control. We are working with governments and institutions globally to achieve this mission,” says Yin Ye, CEO of BGI Genomics. “We have more than trebled our production capacity to two million reactions a day to meet demand and expect to increase that again to three million reactions in the coming weeks.”
BGI Group started out at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 in China and is now spearheading the worldwide response, deploying not only test kits but also laboratory robots to automate sample preparation and powerful sequencers to track virus mutations.
In Wuhan, BGI Group set up its first Huo-Yan or “Fire Eye” Laboratory in five days. This 2,000 square-meter automated Biosafety Level-2 PCR testing laboratory can perform 10,000 tests a day.
A comprehensive solution for rapidly scaling up diagnostic testing, the Huo-Yan or Fire Eye model is now being implemented around the world. Fire Eye laboratories combine the best of BGI Group expertise. The laboratory equipment is produced by MGI, a part of the BGI Group focused on sequencing tools and lab automation.
Sequencing plays a number of roles in the fight against COVID-19, explains Duncan Yu, President of MGI. “It helped identify the virus that caused COVID-19 and can track new strains of the virus as it mutates and the speed of those changes.”
In the UAE, together with local partner G42, BGI Group built the first laboratory outside China in Abu Dhabi in just 14 days. It began operating in early April and will scale up to handle tens of thousands of samples a day.
In Sweden, BGI Group has been working with the Karolinska Institute to build a Fire Eye lab in Stockholm. It will perform both virus detection and scientific research for comprehensive monitoring of virus mutations.
In Kansas City, BGI Group formed an innovative partnership with local business leaders and The University of Kansas Health System. The business leaders provided funding to help protect their local community and provide 50,000 test kits, along with lab automation equipment.
The BGI Group has a long history of responding to public health crises including decoding the genome of the SARS virus in 2003, then developing the virus detection kit in 96 hours, and helping fight the Ebola outbreak in 2014 in West Africa.