Netherlands buys robot that can analyze 20,000 Covid tests per day

The Dutch government acquired a robot that will significantly up its capacity for analyzing coronavirus tests. The robot, officially called STRIP-1 but commonly referred to as The Beast, can process approximately 20 thousand PCR tests per 24 hours and deliver the results online. The cost per test is also significantly lower, the Ministry of Public Health announced on Thursday.

STRIP-1 is a Dutch invention developed by the Hubrecht Institute and biotechnology company Genmab, and built in Switzerland. According to the government, the robot will not only make it easier to process tests and map the spread of the coronavirus in this pandemic, but can also be used in possible future pandemics. "This makes it an important building block for a robust, public test facility for the Netherlands," the Ministry said in a press release.

The robot was installed in Veldhoven shortly before Christmas, and has since been analyzing more and more tests in a step-by-step preparation for full deployment. This validation period is expected to run until mid-February, supervised by public health institute RIVM and municipal health service GGD Zuid-Oost Brabant. If the validation yields the expected results, the government is considering purchasing more of these robots in due course.

"This really is a promising new step in the fight against the corona pandemic. It is wonderful that companies and institutes from the Netherlands have been able to achieve this and we have also gladly contributed to this from the government," Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health said. "All signals indicate that we will be able to successfully deploy this robot. The STRIP-1 can be an important additional link in the large-scale testing that is necessary in a pandemic."

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