04 January 2021 | Story André Damons | Photo Supplied
Hanno du Preez.

When the South African Doping Control Laboratory (SADoCoL) on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) lost all its samples originating from organised sports as the world went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it quickly moved to reorganise workspace and refurbish a small laboratory area to do some COVID-19 related testing.

SADoCoL is an ISO17025 and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited service laboratory that performs blood analysis for the Athlete Biological Passport. 

SADoCoL able to conduct serology testing

Hanno du Preez, SADoCoL Director, says the laboratory is in the fortunate position that it has the equipment available to conduct serology testing on serum and full blood samples for immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

“SADoCoL moved quickly to reorganise workspace and refurbish a small laboratory area, ensuring proper workflow for the handling of virus-borne samples. With quick response from Mr Benedict Mochesela of UFS Facilities Management and the contractor, the space was re-organised and the necessary safety areas created within four days,” says Du Preez. 
According to him, the new ‘COVID-19 lab’ necessitated the installation of partition walls between sample preparation, clothing areas, and instrument areas, the installation of alternative lighting, as well as high throughput extractor fans and UV lights to disinfect the lab space. This also involved upgrading the sample administration area in order to comply with the requirements of the regulations for handling samples that may potentially contain this virus.

Antibody tests for the SARSCoV-2 virus

SADoCoL is now equipped to do antibody tests for the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is eagerly awaiting approval from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). 

“This test can detect the presence of antibodies (IgM and IgG) in human blood after exposure to the virus. The implementation of this method will enable SADoCoL to support the UFS in determining infection data, as well as the sporting community to determine the spread of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus among elite athletes. SADoCoL is also excited to add to the research on this virus,” explains Du Preez. 

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