CU News

His Majesty the King Grants Prototype Express Analysis Mobile Units for Proactive COVID-19 Screening in People at Risk

March 18, 2021 – Amphon Sathan Throne Hall Dusit Palace – His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn, and Her Majesty Queen Suthida graciously granted an audience to Professor Emeritus Dr. Pirom Kamolratanakul, President of the Chulalongkorn University Council, Professor Dr. Bundhit Eua-Arporn, Chulalongkorn University President, and a group of university administrators to present a prototype Express Analysis Mobile Unit (EAMU), complete with lab equipment and a biomolecular analyser.

H.E. Anutin Charnvirakul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health, presented Dr. Kiattaphum Wongrachit, Permanent Secretary of Public Health, to receive 4 additional EAMUs (totalling 5) that His Majesty the King has graciously granted for use to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The EAMU was developed by Chula Faculties of Engineering and Architecture in collaboration with Engine Life Co., Ltd., a start-up incubated by CU Innovation Hub, and a network of partners in both the public and private sectors, as a comprehensive mobile laboratory for the analysis of COVID-19 screening samples. The EAMU is aimed at people at risk in areas far away from hospitals. It will reduce the problem of sample transportation and wait-time for analysis results.

H.M. the King had given one prototype EAMU to work in conjunction with a biosafety sampling unit for the first time on January 22, 2021, in Bangkok, Samut Sakhon, Pathum Thani, and Tak Provinces.  Up until now, more than 30,000 samples have been analysed.  H.M. the King then personally funded the construction of 4 additional units and presented all 5 units to the Ministry of Public Health for further enhancement of the pandemic mitigation.

The EAMU has 16.8 square meters of utility area.  Inside, there are 4 main rooms: Genomic DNA Extraction Room, Solution Preparation Room, and Analysis Room using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology.  Lab technicians can accurately, conveniently, and safely analyze the samples.  Moreover, there is a changing room and buffer area for the control and prevention of pathogen leaks.  The unit is also equipped with the following equipment: sterilized chamber, PCR chamber, automatic genomic DNA extraction machine, PCR machine, -20-Degree-Celcius freezer, samples container, agitator, CC TV and automatic alcohol hand cleanser dispensers.  The construction of the EAMU was approved by the Department of Medical Sciences.  Safe for medical personnel, the unit can generate test results in 3 hours and can test 800-1,000 samples per day, thereby helping to locate infected people quickly and increasing the efficiency in mitigating the disease.

The sense of kinship and warmth found in the Chula community is priceless and a treasure worth keeping.

Prof. Dr. Pornanong Aramwit Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chulalongkorn University