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Robust Automation and Point of Care IDentification of COVID

The Challenge

The emergence of the new coronavirus in December 2019 in Wuhan City, China and the following declaration of outbreak of the COVID-19 disease by the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in January 2020, has triggered the urgent need to quickly identify patients infected with the new SARS-CoV-2 virus.


As of January 2021, the COVID-19 outbreak has caused over 119 million infections globally, claiming more than 2.6 million lives.  Rapid and definitive diagnosis of the specific SARS-CoV-2 is essential, while identifying other common viral and bacterial pathogens is vital in the management of treatment and in timely isolation of infected patients with overlapping clinical symptoms.


Numerous studies have shown that 5.8% of SARS-CoV-2 infected and 18.4% of non-SARS-CoV-2-infected patients had other concurrent pathogen infections. Failure to distinguish different pathogens may lead to unnecessary antimicrobial use, cross-infection of mis-grouped patients and further spreading of the infection. Therefore, in response to the current outbreak, single gene testing is not optimal, especially considering the virus may become permanently and globally endemic.


Simple, sensitive and multiplex detection of all respiratory pathogens is technically challenging. In response to the need for faster and better detection of multiple respiratory pathogens, GeneFirst has developed a prototype using its innovative proprietary technology - MPA (Multiplex Probe Amplification) - to simultaneously detect and differentiate SARS-CoV-2 as well as 30 other common respiratory bacteria and viruses. This assay will allow for accurate, cost-effective and comprehensive diagnoses during the current outbreak as well as future routine diagnosis.


In this 15 month project, the consortium aims to analytically and clinically validate (CE-mark) this assay on two automated platforms for Point-of-Care and core pathology testing. This strategy provides maximum flexibility in screening and triage, allowing better and faster care, alleviating pressures on healthcare systems and improving patient recovery rates.

Funding Bodies

This project has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 101005144. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA. 

The Partners

The RAPID-COVID consortium is made up of 5 partners from 4 European countries (UK, France, Spain, Slovenia) and constitutes an pan-European eco-system with the necessary infrastructure, knowledge, expertise, services and industry value chain to succeed in delivering on the project’s objectives to realised the expected impacts of the IMI call topic.


PrimaDiag (France) - PrimaDiag develops automates for Genomics and molecular biology. Its clients are mainly hospitals, diagnostic laboratories and research centers.  One of the company's flagship products is the ACSIA platform, which prepares samples for next-generation sequencers (NGS). PrimaDiag will be responsible for automating the workflow for efficient high-throughput testing.


Biosistemika (Slovenia) - BIOSISTEMIKA LLC specializes in life science laboratory automation and workflow management, actively working in the biotechnology area. It is composed of an interdisciplinary team of software engineers, computer programmers and life science experts.  BioSistemika will develop an user-friendly software for automated platforms for the Covid-19 laboratory assay, developed by consortium partner GeneFirst.


Agencia Sanitaria Costa del Sol (Spain)Agencia Sanitaria Costa del Sol (HCS) is a health organization that belongs to the Andalusian Ministry of Health. It constitutes 3 Hospitals with 2,000 professionals and covers a population of around 500,000 citizens allocated in the Costa del Sol region.  Its mission is to provide public quality health care to the citizens, seeking efficiency and optimum use of resources with links to 12 Primary care centres in the area. HCS has vast expertise in clinical trials, epidemiological studies and health care improvement interventions. HCS is a clinical validation partner for both the Point-of-Care and High-throughput testing platforms for this project. 


Assistance Publique Hospitaux de Paris (France)Assistance Publique Hospitaux de Paris is a public health establishment and university hospital center - CHU - in the Ile-de-France region. It is the largest employer in Ile-de-France with 100,000 employees including doctors, researchers, paramedics, administrative staff. The AP-HP brings together 39 hospitals, located in Paris, in the inner suburbs and in the provinces. For this project, APHP, with its expertise in microbiology and infectious diseases testing, will be validating the high-throughput platform against current state-of-the-art system.


For further information about the project or members of the consortium, please contact Winnie Wu at

The content of this website reflects the author's view and that neither IMI nor the European Union, EFPIA, or any Associated Partners are responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

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