How To Build A Covid Testing Lab

There is a great need for new testing to test more and more people daily as the daily surges of Covid 19 are quite alarming. According to WHO, diagnostic testing is a part of a comprehensive strategy to control Covid 19. It’s been said that tests show us where the virus is hiding, which is a key way to spread the transmission of said.

There are different types of Covid 19 diagnostic testing such as PCR Test, Lamp Test Antigens Test, Antibodies Test. Whereas Antigens test can be done at Point of Care or Care homes, the rest need to be in a laboratory certified by CDC. By the way, see here for in home COVID-19 testing in Dallas.

The Laboratory Modular Design

This has the flexibility of scaling as needed by either increasing or decreasing the number of modules. Each module should be in a separate area to reduce the risk of reagent contamination throughout the process.

The laboratory modular design has six important modules that must be housed in different rooms. Module 1 should be house in a dedicated room for heat inactivation of samples. Module 2 should also be in a dedicated room where inactivated samples will be unbagged and racked for automated processing.

Module 3, 4, and 5 should be housed together in the laboratory. Module 3 is an initial liquid handling platform for the samples. While module 4 is where automated RNA extraction is been carried out. Module 5 is also a liquid handling platform where the samples are prepared in a PCR plate. Finally, Module 6 is a stand-alone room where the samples are analyzed on a qPCR machine.


Module 1 is the collection point of swabs in screw-capped viral transport tubes, sealed in safety bags.  The bag and tube should have been barcoded for ease of difference with the aid of labels assigned at the testing center or in-home test kit.

Hereafter, the bags are to be collated in sets of 94 in a plastic tray and placed in an oven. The samples will then be heated to a temperature of 56 °C.

The heat inactivation is to ensure that the samples are sufficiently low of infectious hazard to perform diagnostic testing containment level 2. The sample is thereafter transported to module 2 which is a processing laboratory in a  separate room. Samples should then be unbagged and place on racks compatible with any automated liquid-handling of choice. Any samples that are detected to be leaking or have leaked should be transported to a Class II microbiological safety cabinet for safe manual processing.

Module 3 is an automated liquid handling platform. Samples tubes should be uncapped inside the robot work station of any liquid handling platform of your choice, and the automated process should be initiated.

The first step is scanning the barcode into your laboratory information management system. Thereafter, the automated dispensation of the VTM from the sample tube into a well plate for RNA extraction. Reagents are then added manually using a multichannel pipette.

In module 4, this is where RNA is extracted and sealed in an elution buffer plate with foil and transported to module 5.

Another liquid handling platform is used to set up the qPCR plate. Here assay is used to amplifies the opening reading frame genes of the SARS-CoV-2 genome. The primer mix, master mix, and water should be mixed manually in a 15-ml falcon tube and then dispense into a pipetting trough. The liquid handler will be initiated and the PCR mix is pipetted into each well of an optical PCR plate. The RNA is then pipetted into the PCR plate and seal with an optical film seal before being transported to module 6.

Module 6 housed the qPCR machines. Here, the machines are made to run an analysis of the data using Covid 19 analysis software.