An Uruguayan laboratory created a kit to transport and store COVID-19 samples

Aravanlabs' supply will be soon exported to several countries in South and Central America.
Publication date: 27/04/2020


Once again, Uruguayan talent has shown its capacity and ability to create solutions in complex times. Only two weeks after the first diagnosis of COVID-19 in the country, the biotechnology company Aravanlabs developed a kit to transport and store samples of this virus. It is a viral transport medium, a tube containing adequate conditions to keep the sample taken from a nasopharyngeal swab from the possible infected people.

With the arrival of the pandemic and as a result of the high demand during the health crisis, these kits, which usually arrived in Uruguay and other countries from the United States and Europe, began to be produced on a large scale in Asian countries. However, due to high domestic demand, countries applied protectionist regulations that prevented the export of inputs associated with COVID-19.

In the last week of March, with the appearance of the disease in Uruguay and due to domestic and international demand, Aravanlabs began to develop the kit and on 30 March carried out the first assessment to see if production was viable. By April 9, they made the first production batch of 36 tubes, which was delivered to the Pasteur Institute to perform PCR tests, the molecular biology technique used to detect the virus.

"The sample must remain 48 hours in the broth contained in this tube and then the assay is performed (...) We are relying on a formulation promoted by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) of the United States. It is a recommended procedure that has already been validated in other countries", said biologist, founder and CEO of Aravanlabs, Laura Macció.

More than 15 Uruguayan public and private health institutions located in Montevideo, Durazno, Maldonado, Lavalleja and Paysandú acquired the kit. At the national level, more than 3,000 requests were reached and there are countries such as Ecuador that requested up to half a million kits.

"We are adapting the entire production line so that it can supply the greatest possible amount, always in accordance with demand," reported Macció. At first, they produced 500 kits per day, but the biologist estimates that in the medium term they could reach 3,000 units per day.

Aravanlabs has a distribution contract with Eubiosis for the health sector in Uruguay and an agreement to export to Chile, Argentina and Brazil. In addition, the company has an agreement with a commercial agent, within the framework of the +internationalization project that began together with Uruguay XXI through the ProExport + program to export to Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and the countries of Central America.

"There was a shortage of these kits due to the great demand abroad. For us, it is significant to contribute with a solution at this time of pandemic. In addition, as a company it allows us to reach our first objective which is to maintain jobs", she reflected

Aravanlabs is a biotechnology company and a pioneer in producing supplies and providing microbiological control services. In addition, it introduced the concept of microbiological mapping that is being applied in the food and pharmaceutical industries. The company offers more than 100 products and more than 70 control services. Currently, it is has started an internationalization process.