With the continued rise of coronavirus cases around the world, the UAE just built (and opened) a massive-throughput laboratory for population-scale testing of COVID-19. 

Built in just 14 days, the laboratory is the largest operational facility of its kind to be built outside of China, which had been the epicentre of the virus until the number of cases began to decrease recently. 

The facility, located in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, is the work of Group 42, an artificial intelligence and cloud computing firm in Abu Dhabi that is running the laboratory alongside global genomics company, BGI.


It’s expected to be able to process tens of thousands of COVID-19 tests per day using tests known as real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), which are able to facilitate and speed up the process of diagnosing suspected cases as well as screening of their close contacts and other high-risk groups.

It also speeds up the release of recovered patients, helping with the strain on hospitals in light of the pandemic. The lab will also be monitoring any mutations in the virus. 

"In such challenging times, we feel compelled to leverage our expertise, technological resources and international partnerships to bring rapid, accurate testing capabilities on a massive scale and bolster the detection efforts led by authorities,” said Group-42 CEO Peng Xiao.

The UAE has carried out more than 220,000 tests for COVID-19 so far, making it the second highest test density in the world. 

Aside from the new laboratory, the UAE is also rolling out drive-through testing centres, which aim to perform 600 tests a day. 

Photos courtesy of Sky News Arabia.