UZ Leuven and KU Leuven expand COVID-19 test capacity on the Gasthuisberg campus

2 November 2020

As of 2 November UZ Leuven and KU Leuven, together with 7 other university centres collaborate on increasing the capacity of the labs for COVID-19 testing. In Leuven a new lab was established. This lab could perform up to 7,000 tests a day. As a result of strong automisation on the one hand, and more efficient work processes on the other, the new labs can perform more tests with a shorter lead time.

Reference lab

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, UZ Leuven has been the Belgian reference lab for COVID-19. The last couple of months, UZ Leuven and KU Leuven have been investing in supporting other clinical labs, so that they could also develop into testing labs. Since the spring all clinical labs have also gradually increased their capacity. At the moment, the UZ Leuven lab can perform about 2,000 tests a day. Thanks to the new lab this will be increased with another 7,000 tests a day.

In Belgium there is a daily average of 66,000 tests a day. At this point, the industrial labs take on part of these tests. Thanks to the new university lab, all these tests will once again be taken on by the clinical labs.

Relieve pressure

The new labs do not replace the existing clinical labs. “The were put in place to relieve pressure on the current clinical and industrial labs. Patients will not immediately notice the effect, because the new labs are replacing the industrial labs. Thanks to a shared effort of the 8 universities involved, spread over the whole country, Belgium will see additional testing capacity”, says prof. dr. Emmanuel André, staff member of the laboratory medicine department of UZ Leuven.

Strong collaboration

The UZ Leuven and KU Leuven started testing on 2 November met testen. The lab will starte with a limited number of tests and will gradually increase its capacity. As soon as all necessary equipment and products have been delivered, the capacity will be increased to 7,000 tests a day.

For the new Leuven, there was a strong collaboration between the hospital, the university and the government. UZ Leuven takes on the exploitation and will employ 40 new staff in the lab. KU Leuven provides the physical space in the Red Cross buildings and makes sure the space is technically in order. The government provides the necessary appliances and equipment. In addition to the universiy of Leuven the universities of Luik (U Liège and CHU Liège), Antwerp (U Antwerpen and UZA), Louvain-La-Neuve (UCL and Saint Luc Bruxelles), Brussel (ULB en IBC), Bergen (U Mons en Hôpital de Jolimont), Gent (UGent en UZ Gent) and Namen (U Namur en CHU-UCL Namur) all established new labs.

Last edit: 15 February 2021