Professor helps on COVID-19 testing

22 May, 2020
Fabrice Merien mask

Professor Fabrice Merien, from the School of Science, has been seconded to assist Roche Diagnostics New Zealand increase capacity for COVID-19 testing in New Zealand.

Roche requested Professor Merien, an expert in Molecular Diagnostics, to work on the commissioning, training and ongoing support of a new automated PCR (polymerase chain reaction) diagnostic's platform.

The cobas 6800 instrument, now installed at Labtests in Auckland, has helped New Zealand increase testing capacity from an average of around 1,850 tests per day to more than 4,500.

Roche New Zealand managing director John Wright says, “We’re very grateful for our AUT partnership and it’s fantastic to have Fabrice assisting us. He is a highly experienced Molecular Diagnostics professional and his skills are extremely valuable in supporting laboratories to ramp up high quality testing and assist the MOH in slowing the spread of COVID-19 infections"

Professor Merien says he’s honoured to be part of such an important and ambitious project and excited to work on the system which, can perform up to 1,536 tests every 24 hours.

“This is the first cobas 6800 instrument and the first IVD [in vitro diagnostics] validated COVID-19 test in New Zealand. The real-time PCR technology delivers fast, highly sensitive and reliable results for COVID-19 patient diagnosis. Thinking back to all the manual steps involved with my first PCR assays, almost 30 years ago, this is dream come true.”

Professor Merien’s secondment has been wholeheartedly supported by the school, faculty and AUT.

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