COVID-19: ITDI at the forefront
CISeAL's Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory in Ecuador has processed over 22,000 COVID-19 samples to date
CISeAL, managed jointly by ITDI and Pontificia Unversidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE), has played a key role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ecuador. In March 2020, amid the initiation of the confinement in Ecuador, implementation of a COVID-19 molecular diagnostic laboratory was initiated within CISeAL´s state-of-the-art facilities, which include the only biosafety level-III laboratory in the country. The diagnostic laboratory is supported by PUCE´s Research Office, DISerLAB (PUCE´s clinical laboratory), as well as its medical school.
In April 2020, the COVID-19 diagnostic laboratory received authorization by the Ecuadorian government to operate. Learn more. Samples from patients are taken by technicians at CISeAL as well as received directly from the Ministry of Public Health. Currently, the laboratory can conduct PCR tests in 400-500 samples per day, with a turnaround time of 24 hours or less. A priority of the laboratory is to provide testing for medical personnel, in order to ensure proper isolation and rapid return to activities. Testing does not have a cost for public hospitals, since it is subsidized by “Sumar Juntos,” a private sector trust established to fund COVID-19 control activities in Ecuador.
CISeAL´s interdisciplinary team is composed of biologists, bio-analysts, physicians, virologists, data management specialists and logistics support personnel, all of whom contribute to the COVID-19 diagnostic efforts. The experience of DISerLAB, PUCE´s clinical laboratory, has been crucial in the implementation and functioning of the molecular diagnosis laboratory.
Contribution to the National Health System in Ecuador
Quito, the Ecuadorian capital, was severely affected by COVID-19 during July and August 2020, and CISeAL played a key role in supporting the National Health System in facing this health crisis. CISeAL´s COVID-19 molecular diagnostic laboratory analyzes samples from private patients as well as from several public hospitals in Quito (Calderón Teaching Hospital, Pablo Arturo Suárez Hospital, Baca Ortiz Hospital, Enrique Garcés General Hospital, Eugenio Espejo Hospital) on a daily basis. Additionally, CISeAL is processing samples from different cities' health departments around Ecuador, including Ambato, Atuntaqui, Guaranda, Latacunga, Loja, Otavalo and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas Through these efforts, CISeAL directly supports the Ecuadorian National Health System during the pandemic.
PUCE has reached agreements with the local provincial government to provide timely COVID-19 molecular diagnosis to thousands of people in Pichincha Province. Additionally, CISeAL´s COVID-19 diagnostic laboratory supports testing among members of the National Police, the Metropolitan Transit Agency, the Public Transport System and others, who are tested at reduced prices.
In addition, the laboratory has provided cost-free testing to Chibuleo, Huaorani, Tsáchila and Zápara indigenous communities, as well as to the people of San Pedro del Valle and Nayón (communities neighboring CISeAL).