Diah Iskandriati, DVM, IPB Expert Involved in Creating mBSL-2 COVID-19 Mobile Lab

President of Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, on May 20th, 2020 launched products of research, technology, and innovation to handle COVID-19. Among those is the mobile laboratory with a Biosafety Level of 2 (BSL-2), whose one of the designers is an expert from IPB Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Diah Iskandriati, DVM. She is an esteemed researcher who has received the Biosafety Heroes Award 2017 from the International Federation of Biosafety Association (IFBA) for experts in Biosafety or Control of Dangerous Microorganisms. Diah, DVM explained initiation to create a BSL-2 mobile lab started from a discussion with the Task Force for COVID-19 Research and Technology Innovation (TFRIC-19) the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) concerning the limited and uneven spread of BSL-2 labs to perform RT-PCR tests necessary to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is feared that the existing capacity of labs are not enough to handle the number of specimens during the pandemic. From there, a collective idea was formed to design and develop a mobile lab which can run sample tests for COVID-19 according to the appropriate procedures and standards. This includes the validity and accuracy of test results supported by lab facilities. Those facilities are in accordance to principals of bio-risk, biosafety, and biosecurity and also the ability to be transported dynamically from one location to another.

The development of mBSL-2 is facilitated by TFRIC-19 (sub task force 5) which involves many parties who have contributed according to their own proportional capacities. Among them are experts in design, biotechnology lab, bio-risk, biosafety, structure, electrical engineering, system information, system control, and others. This collaboration involves researchers and engineers from the COVID-19 Accelerated Handling Task Force, the Ministry of Research and Technology/National Research Agency), Ministry of Health, IPB University and other expert institutions. The existence of Mobile Biosafety BSL-2 makes it clear that IPB University’s role is to create experts in the aforementioned fields so that they may make national contributions in the innovation of products like mBSL-2 which plays a role in handling the pandemic. In the development and production of mBSL-2, Diah, DVM and researcher from Bandung Institute of Technology are collaborating in charge of designing the mobile lab according to WHO standards and with some modifications which are appropriate, focusing on the aspect of safety. She also helps with the preparation of tools and administration. After mBSL-2 has finished its development, Diah, DVM and team is also involved in the inspection and testing process before it is deemed operational.

The advantage of mBSL-2 is that it can be dynamically transported from one location to another. The mBSL-2 made by TFRIC-19 has an air flow system which can be controlled using a computer outside of the work area. This allows an external technician to fix any problems that may arise without entering the lab area. In this aspect it is similar to the BSL-3 system. The mBSL-2 also includes the waste processing system within the laboratory which ensures that any waste produced is safe. The mBSL-2 can reach all regions of Indonesia which do not yet have a BSL-2 lab because the design of this innovation allows it to be transported on land, sea, and air. In the early prototype, the mobile lab took 3-4 weeks to manufacture, now however, it only takes 7-10 days. The lab includes a monitoring system using CCTV which can be operated from the center. In this way, the mobile lab qualifies as a BSL-2 enhancement. Regarding lab testing capacity, around 50-100 samples was initially expected to be tested at one time, but now maximum load can reach up to 264 samples at one time. Concerning capacity of lab workers, referring to the safety aspect and lab area, one shift shall consist of two people. The designer and engineering team of the mBSL-2 expressed their hope that the presence of mBSL-2 will be a strategic and synergic model which can be replicated by authorities or other entities who are fighting against this pandemic. This innovation was created in the anticipation of similar problems arising in the future. The collaboration model, starting from the designing to manufacturing was possible due to the participation of all involved in following the rules strictly. The mBSL-2’s reach of operation and mobility, and its following products are hoped to be solutions for related epidemiological problems. With the presence of mBSL-2, more innovations should embrace local researchers and designers to help provide solutions for lab facilities.

Published Date : 22-May-2020

Resource Person : Dr Diah Iskandriati

Keyword : mBSL-2, Task Force for the Acceleration of Handling Indonesian COVID-19, Research and Technology / BRIN, Ministry of Health Republic of Indonesia, IPB University, Indonesia Artificial Intelligence Society, Indonesian Intelligent Initiative Association, Indonesian Biorisiko Association, BPPT, Indonesia Definitely Can