The King at the Covid laboratory of ULiège

With more than 450,000 PCR analyses, it is the laboratory that has carried out the most Covid tests in Belgium.


he King visited the Covid laboratory of the ULiège on Tuesday 10 November, which, with 450,000 analyses to date, is the one that has carried out the largest number of tests in Belgium.

The King was welcomed by Rector Pierre Wolper, Governor Hervé Jamar and Mayor Willy Demeyer. He went to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, where the Covid laboratory was created from scratch last April around Prof. Fabrice Bureau, Vice-Rector for Research, and Prof. Laurent Gillet, Vice-Dean for Research of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. For the visit, the Faculty was also represented by its Dean, Pr Georges Daube.

The purpose of the visit was to present to the King the important role of the University of Liège since April in the screening of Sars-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19. The ULiège has developed a new automated PCR type test method and has secured the supply of reagents necessary for the extraction of viral genetic material by creating an autonomous production line in its laboratories.

ULiège has joined the federal testing platform, and it is its automated method that is currently being replicated in seven other Belgian university hospital laboratories (ULB and Institute of Clinical Biology; UCLouvain and Hôpital Saint-Luc Brussels ; KU Leuven and UZ Leuven; University of Namur and CHU-UCL Namur; University of Mons and Jolimont Hospital; Universiteit Antwerpen and UZ Antwerpen; Universiteit Gent and UZ Gent) which now form the new federal platform together with the University of Liège / CHU of Liège.

Since the beginning of the health crisis, the ULiège has played an important role in innovation and screening. It has evolved its method by developing, together with Walloon companies, a kit for the self-sampling of saliva before PCR analysis in the laboratory. This method speeds up the process by making it easier for each person to take a sample, rather than by an operator as with nasopharyngeal sampling, and by making the first stage of laboratory work unnecessary, as the virus is inactivated directly during the self-sampling of saliva.

The saliva test was offered to ULiège students and staff at the end of September. It was suspended as of 26 October following the universities' Code Rouge and the need to redirect this PCR capacity for saliva testing to the most pressing priorities for the region and the country, responding to the Walloon government's request to carry out regular testing of the 47,000 staff members of the 602 rest and care homes in Wallonia. This testing starts this week.

On a daily basis, the PCR analysis capacity of ULiège's Covid lab, both on nasopharyngeal and salivary samples, is between 12,000 and 16,000. It is a team of 25 people who make it possible to carry out this immense screening effort in the service of the country and its population.


Photos ULiège ©M.Houet

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