Please give a thought to the scientists who are doing the research and testing for SARS-CoV-2 virus in Italy and elsewhere. Like the front line doctors and nurses we all owe them our thanks and best wishes at this difficult time.
Readers may recall previous mentions of Dr Giuseppe Aprea. Dr Aprea, a veterinary graduate from the University of Naples, studied for part of his PhD on lactic bacteriophages with the author in Northern Ireland.
Giuseppe is currently a Veterinary Manager Officer for the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell'Abruzzo e del Molise "Giuseppe Caporale" (IZSAM). Until recently his research was mostly related to the detection of foodborne viruses and bacteriophages. IZSAM is a public health institute with administrative and managerial autonomy, which operates as a technical and scientific arm of the Italian state and the Abruzzo and Molise Regions in Italy.
On March 13, the IZSAM of Teramo joined the Covid19 network in the Abruzzo Region and is performing the official analysis of human swab samples for SARS-CoV-2 virus, the causal agent of Covid-19. Abruzzo is situated in central Italy and has around 1000 confirmed Covid-19 cases to date.
Dr Giuseppe Aprea and colleagues at the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell'Abruzzo e del Molise.
The first phases of the analytical processes are carried out in a BSL4 mobile laboratory with high biological containment. In the maximum safety laboratory, the analysts work on 4 daily shifts. PCR analyses are performed by a group of 20 people, working in couples, on six shifts per day, in order to be able to process >400 samples per day.
Dr Aprea has been involved since the 23rd of March in the real time PCR analysis of the swabs and is personally processing over 100 samples per day. Currently some 30% of the samples tested are positive for the virus.