PCR tests – Vienna expands test capacities

Vienna is different – while the rest of the federal states are reaching their limits and are considering using more antigen tests again, the federal capital is expanding its test capacities: on Friday, two additional pavilions for laboratory and logistics were opened on the Penzing Clinic area. This means that 800,000 tests can be analyzed daily by Lifebrain in order to be prepared for the needs of the highly contagious Omikron variant. The Gecko advisory body will definitely continue to advocate the broadest possible testing for the corona virus. A change in strategy in this regard – in the past few days, well-known doctors such as the virologist Elisabeth Puchhammer-Stöckl and the infectiologist Günter Weiss had questioned the broad testing as a whole – it did not exist, it was emphasized on Friday.

In Vienna, the renovation of the former Otto Wagner Hospital began at the beginning of December. Pavilions 9 and 15 were completely renovated and converted into a high-tech laboratory and logistics facility. To do this, the infrastructure had to be overhauled. Around 237 kilometers of data lines and 182 kilometers of power cables were laid, a separate 800 kilovolt-ampere transformer station including a 700 kilovolt-ampere emergency generator was installed by Wiener Netze and the hygienically clean, sterile atmosphere necessary for laboratory operation was created, Lifebrain announced in a broadcast.

500 new employees

55 new pipetting robots and 84 PCR analyzers were installed in pavilion 15, which is now the second Lifebrain laboratory pavilion. A test operation has been running there since the end of December. Another logistics center is housed in pavilion 9, which will be completed at the end of January. The premises were converted to prepare the incoming samples for analysis as quickly and efficiently as possible – that is, unpacking, visual inspection, scanning, registration, thermal inactivation.

In addition, more than 500 new employees were hired and trained in the past two months. This means that there are currently around 1,700 employees from 54 nations at Lifebrain. Another 250 will be hired in the next few weeks. According to the company, the additional capacities have been covering the gurgle tests at Vienna’s elementary and special schools since Monday. The expansion of the Viennese “Alles gurgelt!” Program as well as test programs for other federal states – such as the PCR test lanes in Salzburg, pharmacies in Lower Austria, “Alles gurgelt!” for companies in Upper Austria – are thus covered.

“The federal capital Vienna decided early on in 2020 to run an aggressive PCR test strategy. This way we can remove positive cases from the infection process at an early stage, before larger clusters form, and this is the only way we can achieve broad and precise virus variant monitoring “, said Health Councilor Peter Hacker (SPÖ) on the occasion of the opening. “Nowhere else in the world can citizens get a PCR test as quickly and easily as in Vienna.” In the federal capital, roughly as many PCR tests would be carried out as in the whole of Germany, according to Hacker.

Aim to cover eastern region

“The focus of our efforts is the vision of guaranteeing high-quality, rapid and stable analysis of PCR tests throughout the east of the country,” said Lifebrain Managing Director Michael Havel. “With the substantial expansion of laboratory and logistics, we can also enable large quantities of additional PCR analyzes for new target groups such as the Viennese schools for our most important partner, the City of Vienna. In addition, we can cover the entire eastern region of the country Offer reliable and timely PCR test results. ” There are corresponding talks with Lower Austria, for example. “We have been analyzing the PCR tests of numerous pharmacies there since mid-November,” explained Havel.

According to Major General Thomas Starlinger, who sits in the Gecko subgroup for testing, the PCR tests in other federal states reach their limits. There you will be forced to set priorities – in the care sector, schools and critical care.

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