Increasing the capacity and speed of testing is crucial for containing the coronavirus pandemic. To help reach these goals, scientists at EMBL Heidelberg are contributing their expertise in a community effort involving partners at Heidelberg University. A pilot project is under way to develop large-scale testing methods, using liquid-handling robots and high-throughput DNA sequencing machines. This approach would make it possible to automatically analyse thousands of samples in parallel. In future, this could help scientists and clinicians to regularly test large parts of the population to avoid the further spread of the virus when lockdowns are relaxed.
EMBL’s Genomics Core Facility provides next-generation sequencing services to a broad range of users at EMBL and elsewhere. The facility hosts a wide range of sequencing machines, and its staff are experts in applying genomics technology to novel research projects. Together with researchers from the Genome Biology Unit, they will contribute their expertise to establish new tests for coronavirus. If the new testing procedures prove to be robust and reliable, they could contribute to a faster return to normal social life and economic activity.