They explained that, through the available laboratories for the salmon farming industry in the south of Chile, they have an initial analysis capacity of 5.000 samples a day. This could vastly improve the amount of tests that can be processed daily in the national health system.
“The laboratories that provide services to the industry have the experience in analysing previously inactivated samples taken throughout the country. By proximity, we could begin in Chiloé, Puerto Montt and Aysén since these are the areas where the industry operates, but we are making ourselves available to analyze samples taken in other health facilities along the country, in cooperation with the authorities,” said Esteban Ramirez, Chief Executive of the Salmon Technological Institute (Intesal) of SalmonChile, who are already coordinating the initiative.
The technique used to test for COVID-19 is the same used in salmon farming, denominated PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and it is performed in various laboratories of the industry. Initially, 10 will be participating of this initiative, which should be validated by the competent authorities and then incorporated to the health network to provide support and cooperation in the detection of positive cases as required.
“We are convinced that this possibility can make a difference in fighting Coronavirus. Along with the industry laboratories and the farming companies, we are making the full capacity of our facilities available to the authorities to work along with them in the implementation of the analyses and cooperating in the management of detected cases,” added Ramirez.
The previously inactivated samples taken in health centres and hospitals would arrive the facilities, where they would be analysed and then reported to the health authorities through a special protocol that has to be determined with each institution.
“We have the conviction that everyone has to contribute to the flattening of the COVID-19 spread curve. Based on the international experience and the World Health Organization, it is worthwhile to have a high analysis and diagnose capacity. Because of this, our laboratories have been coordinated and we are making them available for the authorities to significantly improve the sample analysis capacity of the country”, said Arturo Clément, President of SalmonChile.
The Union Associates reported they have already contacted different authorities to present this alternative and that they are working together on the final logistics and technical aspects to begin this process soon, which will support the analysis system of the samples obtained in the different health centres along the country.
They emphasize that the initial analysis capacity is 5.000 samples per day, but if needed, there are enough human resources to keep the laboratories running 24 hours, which could at least double that number. “It is important to track how the system works out and, along with the authorities, increase the number of analyses if required. We have the experience and know-how,” said Ramirez, clarifying that the salmon facilities could only analyze samples but not test patients for the virus, as they should be taken in health premises.