Why COVID-19 Mobile Test Labs Could Spare Africa

April 29, 2020

The world is currently grappling with one of the biggest global threats seen in our lifetime — COVID-19. Although there is strong evidence that many countries may have the virus under control, this does not mean that other countries have already experienced the worst of it.

It also does not mean that there won’t be a second wave of the virus in the future. And countless reputable immunology and infectious disease experts have averred that although the pandemic-levels of the virus will eventually dissipate, it will not disappear entirely and that we should expect sporadic breakouts from time to time.

In fact, just a few days ago, Africa reported a 43% jump in reported COVID-19 cases over a one-week period, giving reason for health officials’ fear that Africa will become the next epicenter for the virus. Director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention John Nkengasong recently stated in a briefing that Africa has very limited and very strained testing capacity.

This is precisely why mobiolab, the Berlin-based startup, was born — to simplify laboratory testing and address massive shortages of testing facilities around the globe. mobiolab’s mobile plug-and-play laboratory is mainly focused on molecular biological diagnostics, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and through their optimized workflow and open platform, testing is available at a fraction of costs of other technologies.

Africa simply does not have the infrastructure to conduct widespread testing.

In Nigeria, with a population of 200 million people, the Nigeria Center for Disease control had only tested 152 individuals as of last month.

And in South Sudan, with 12 million individuals, only 18 tests had taken place as of early April.

mobiolab’s state-of-the-art mobile laboratories, are based on freight containers and thus easily portable to even the remotest parts of Africa. The labs are completely self-sufficient, simple-to-operate, available in various configurations, and do not rely on other companies, entities or equipment. They can easily be transported by ship, plane or truck. The power supply uses a standard 230 V connection and an optional photovoltaic system enables self-sufficient operation; additional lead-acid rechargeable batteries (emergency power supply) provide uninterruptible power.

The mobiolab facilities can be equipped to conduct several hundred PCR analyses per hour. Materials and methods supplied and developed by mobiolab can secure uninterrupted supply and bring down analytical costs significantly. The test, which has only been reserved for a few stationary laboratories to date, can also identify symptom-free carriers or even detect samples from environmental analyses, swabs of materials etc., and is the most sensitive test procedure to date, and considered the analytical goldstandard.

A single unit has the ability to analyze between 1,500 to 7,000 samples per day, making it versatile, extremely capable, mobile laboratory to fight not only the present outbreak.

The fluorescence-based RT-qPCR that is being used is suitable also for the detection of mutated variants of SARS-CoV-2— as well as other pathogens, such as Ebola, MERS, Zika etc.


mobiloab GmbH Germany
Phone: +49 (0)30 921 03 8650