New partnership between UCLouvain and the ESA to screen for COVID-19


The European Space Agency has released a budget of €1 million for the use of the UCLouvain B-LIFE mobile screening laboratory in Piedmont, Italy.

The team of Professor Jean-Luc Gala, operational director of the B-LIFE mobile lab, will be responsible for this mission.

The aim is to be able to test approximately 20,000 people working on the front line in the fight against COVID-19 in two months, and identify those who are and are not infected by the virus, and those who have developed an immune response. The results will provide information on who is and is not fit to stay in the field. The study will also make it possible to study the performance of the tests produced in Belgium and compare their qualities with others available on the market. This laboratory is equipped with satellite communication tools and has already been successfully used in Guinea to fight the Ebola virus. Its advantage is that it can be operational very quickly and installed as close as possible to the area affected by the health crisis.

This type of collaboration reveals the essential contribution that UCLouvain's expertise in space industry technologies is making in improving action to combat the epidemic. And while the decision has been made to prioritise testing in a region heavily affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, the aim is to then increase capacity to test for the virus in a mobile, rapid and flexible way throughout Europe.