The COVID-19 test made-in-Portugal that from today will be applied throughout the country
As of this Monday, several locations throughout Portugal will be able to receive essential preventive testing kits for use on the elderly and employees, as part of a “complicated logistical operation”, the Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security, Ana Mendes Godinho, told press today.
At the centre of everything is a diagnostic test fully produced in Portugal, with components that do not need to be imported, and which was created from an initiative of the Institute of Molecular Medicine (IMM) and its director, researcher Maria Manuel Mota, specialized in the investigation of malaria.
The Red Cross will assist in collecting the samples for these new testing kits. “It is a very complex program, because it involves many households across the country. Today we have already started with the first tests. We ensure the collection with the great partnership of the Red Cross and the objective is to sign as many partners as possible to reach the largest number of homes possible”, explained the minister in statements to Observador Radio.
The State has ordered 10 thousand of these tests from the IMM, after being certified by the National Health Institute of Dr. Ricardo Jorge (Insa), the laboratory of reference for this process in Portugal. It was on March 12th that investigator Maria Manuel Mota challenged her team of IMM researchers to develop a kit that uses materials and reagents that currently exist in Portugal and, therefore, do not suffer from the international shortage of some medical reagents that is taking place throughout the world.
According to the Público newspaper, Ms. Mota stated that her lab at the IMM will easily reach a test production capacity of 300 a day and, eventually as they scale up, a thousand tests a day.
On the ground Minister Ana Mendes Godinho says that, for now, in this first week of operation it will be possible to collect samples and test between 150 and 200 people per day. At this stage, “the Ministry of Labour is carrying out 10,000 tests in homes with high priority levels, across the country, in a partnership with Minister Manuel Heitor and with the IMM and the Red Cross”, says the minister. Manuel Heitor is the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, who has been bridging the connection between the Government and the scientific community.
Minister Godinho said that “the objective is, also due to the capacity of test production by the IMM, for the universities and also the various entities that want to be a part of this program at a national level (…) to join across all municipalities.”