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CONTAIN: An open-source shipping container laboratory optimised for automated COVID-19 diagnostics

By Kenneth T. Walker, Matthew Donora, Anthony Thomas, Alexander James Phillips, Krishma Ramgoolam, Kjara S Pilch, Phil Oberacker, Tomasz Piotr Jurkowski, Rares Marius Gosman, Aubin Fleiss, Alex Perkins, Neil MacKenzie, Mark Zuckerman, Davide Danovi, Helene Steiner, Thomas Meany

Posted 20 May 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.05.20.106625

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged diagnostic systems globally. Expanding testing capabilities to conduct population-wide screening for COVID-19 requires innovation in diagnostic services at both the molecular and industrial scale. No report to-date has considered the complexity of laboratory infrastructure in conjunction with the available molecular assays to offer a standardised solution to testing. Here we present CONTAIN. A modular biosafety level 2+ laboratory optimised for automated RT-qPCR COVID-19 testing based on a standard 40ft shipping container. Using open-source liquid-handling robots and RNA extraction reagents we demonstrate a reproducible workflow for RT-qPCR COVID-19 testing. With five OT2 liquid handlers, a single CONTAIN unit reaches a maximum daily testing capacity of 2400 tests/day. We validate this workflow for automated RT-qPCR testing, using both synthetic SARS-CoV-2 samples and patient samples from a local NHS hospital. Finally, we discuss the suitability of CONTAIN and its flexibility in a range of diagnostic testing scenarios including high-density urban environments and mobile response units. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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