Huo-Yan Air Lab for Airports : new quick detection solution against pandemics. We are living in a time where global cooperation and collaboration has never been more important, we must work together to overcome a threat that is shared by all. Novel Coronavirus (COVID‐19) had a huge impact on Civil Aviation, making world passenger traffic collapses in an unprecedented decline in history.
The pandemic COVID-19 caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 has affected the health of millions of people, some of them even lost their valuable lives. This virus is highly contagious, and it spreads mainly among people and mainly through respiratory droplets. Before effective vaccines are developed and produced, travel restriction is adopted in a number of countries to constrain this devastating pandemic. However, this could not last for so long since large scales of people staying at home greatly reduces incomes to maintain basic living costs and hampers the development of industries and the global economy.
The airport is a major type of public transportation hubs, especially internationally. The whole civil aviation industry associated with world passenger traffic has collapsed with an unprecedented decline in history. In fact, no matter for citizens, for governments or for airports and airline companies, there are undoubtedly strong needs to relieve certain travel restrictions and meantime keep tight prevention on COVID-19 spreading. A corresponding solution that BGI provides is to establish the capacity of COVID-19 detection within or near the airport so as to provide all passengers a reliable and quick test and precisely control the pandemic. There are multiple ways for COVID-19 tests such as virus nucleic acid test, virus antigen test, and antibody test. Among them, the nucleic acid test is the most reliable one because it directly detects the existence of the pathogenic virus and it has extremely high sensitivity and specificity. It is also the recommended method of WHO for the identification and laboratory confirmation of COVID-19 cases.
Since this virus is pathogenic, any related operations need to be conducted following the protection standard of Biosafety Level-3 (BSL-3) and in qualified labs with at least Biosafety Level-2 (BSL-2) standard.
Early in April this year, BGI has developed Huo-Yan Air lab, an inflatable BSL-2 laboratory that can be deployed at different locations in only a week to conduct the virus-related operation. Huo-Yan, which means fiery eyes, is expected to discern the virus quickly and accurately, thus identifying positive cases as soon as possible. BGI also provides reagent kits and equipment that can be incorporated into the lab for functions of not only pathogen testing but also other genetic testings such as oncology tests and reproductive health screening. Notably, the nucleic acid test for COVID-19 can be completed in around 4 hours with Huo-Yan Air Lab deployed in the airport, since it saves the time of sample transportation between airports and detection labs and optimized experimental procedures empowered by automatic instrument significantly reduces the operation time.
Currently, the qRT-PCR kit developed by BGI has been distributed to over 185 countries for over 20,000,000 tests. Huo-Yan Laboratories have been deployed in more than 80 countries worldwide. Together with solid techniques and experience, BGI has strong confidence to help any country, any organization that is in need of the prevention and control of COVID-19.
2.0 Quick Detection Solution for Airports
To satisfy the demand of reopening the airport thus recovering traffic, economy, and daily life while tightly controlling the COVID-19 threat, BGI has specifically designed a total solution which includes an inflatable biosafety lab, test kits, related equipment, and technical support to enable airport a powerful and timely COVID-19 testing capability. Comparing to POCT, which can only detect one sample per test, BGI’s solution has higher throughput. This solution is the fastest solution available under the premise of ensuring accurate results，which allows the total time cost from sample collection to report delivery is around 4-5 hours with a 20 min Batch interval time.
2.1 Huo-Yan Air Lab (Airport Special Edition)
The most outstanding feature of Huo-Yan Air Lab is its air-supported membrane structure, which renders several main advantages of low cost, quick installation, foldable transportation, and flexibility in terms of deployment site selection and detection throughput configuration. A standard set of Huo-Yan Air Lab (Airport Special Edition) contains four relatively independent chambers in the function of sample reception, sample preparation, and sample test as well as a change room for personal protective equipment, respectively. To maximally reduce contamination, equipment and consumables are not suggested to be shared between different chambers, while the samples which have to be passed between different chambers need extra attention to be paid during the transportation. For instance, use closed transfer boxes and spray with sterilization solutions timely. These areas together require a three-dimensional space of 30-meter long, 10-meter wide, and 5-meter high. Below is a 3-D schematic diagram of the Air Lab and a floor plan which illustrates the 4 chambers with different functions and specifically designed routes for technician, samples, and biowastes in order to reduce cross-contamination.
Each chamber of Huo-Yan Air Lab is equipped with a fresh air system in order to guarantee air cleanliness. To prevent the contaminated air from diffusing into the external environment, the air pressure in the lab areas can be controlled as lower than the outside. The pressure control is achieved by adjusting air supply and exhaust (e.g. supply air> exhaust air → laboratory positive pressure; supply air <exhaust air → laboratory negative pressure). In addition, the air inlet and outlet are all cleaned either through a highly efficient filter system or by strict sterilization. The below diagram demonstrates how air pressure and cleanliness are controlled.