TEL AVIV (Reuters) – DNA testing firm MyHeritage launched a partnership with China’s BGI Genomics Co to set up a COVID-19 testing lab in Israel that aims to be fully operational by April 9.
Financial details were not disclosed.
BGI has set up similar labs in China, including in Wuhan City, the epicenter of the pandemic.
Upon its launch, the new laboratory will process 10,000 tests daily, and shortly after will increase capacity to 20,000 a day, Israel-based MyHeritage said on Monday. The current daily testing capacity in Israel is just over 5,000.
So far 4,347 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Israel and 15 have died.
MyHeritage is recruiting 150 employees for the lab, a national project in coordination with Israel’s Health Ministry, with the assistance of the Defence Ministry. The Health Ministry will be the lab’s primary customer.
BGI will send aerial shipments of all necessary equipment and machinery, most of which is in short supply in Israel. The shipments will include dozens of testing machines for coronavirus and RNA extraction robots. BGI will also send 25 experts to Israel to train laboratory staff.
MyHeritage will donate its profits from the venture to Israeli hospitals, CEO Gilad Japhet said.
The laboratory is part of a new joint venture between the Israeli company and BGI and is unrelated to MyHeritage’s consumer DNA tests, which are processed in a U.S. lab. The lab will test the RNA of samples submitted to detect COVID-19 infection and will not read DNA, the company said.
(Reporting by Tova Cohen; Editing by Steven Scheer)