East Netherlands


Testing corona patients

Wageningen Bioveterinary Research laboratory has started testing the first set of the total of 450 samples from the Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital in Nijmegen to determine if patients or staff are infected by corona. The WVBR contribution in human diagnostics entails a significant increase in the testing capacity for COVID-19 in the Netherlands.

WBVR is carrying out tests commissioned by hospitals and GGDs (Public Health Services). The results are reported to doctors working within these institutes – furthermore, medical microbiologist Dr. Alex Friedrich, of the Groningen University Medical Centre, is involved in this process as a medical consultant. We also interact directly with the clients’ medical microbiologist.

Microbiologist Dr. Andreas Voss, of the Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital in Nijmegen, was the first to submit a number of samples from patients and health workers. The samples have not been tested elsewhere.

‘I expect to submit some 200 samples of patients and staff. The more tests, the better,’ Voss states. You can’t control what you can’t see

Dr. Andreas Voss, microbiologist Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital

Crisis organisation capable of rapid growth

‘We are a research institute,’ WBVR director Ludo Hellebrekers explains, ‘but we are also a crisis organisation for the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Food Security (LNV). We are capable of increasing our capacity to 24/7 if there is a crisis or an outbreak of animal disease. Or of a zoonosis, an animal disease capable of transferring to humans, such as is the case with SARS-CoV-2. The research method is the same for animals and humans. And we are now able to apply our knowledge to help the human diagnostics labs that have done such an excellent job under tremendous pressure over the last weeks. Running diagnostics in crises such as this is precisely what we are equipped to do.’

We do not receive samples directly from patients, but we perform tests commissioned by medical diagnostics labs and report the results to them. They remain responsible for human diagnostics.

“Running diagnostics in crises such as this is precisely what we are equipped to do”

Ludo Hellebrekers, director Wageningen Bioveterinary Research


Through its vast experience and expertise in researching viruses in animals, WVBR is able to deploy PCR-tests for corona patients on short notice. These tests reveal whether or not the coronavirus is present in patients. The tests are carried out in accordance with the RIVM and Erasmus MC protocol. The RIVM checks the accuracy of the tests. This confirms that the tests are of the same quality as those carried out in medical laboratories.

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