The ­Wellington SCL laboratory, part of the Asia Pacific Healthcare Group (APHG) network hit the go button on a new state of the art automated molecular testing platform – the COBAS 6800. It ramps up our ability to support the national COVID-19 response while still delivering other critical medical testing services to Wellington and the wider region.

The COBAS 6800 is a highly automated PCR analyser which is a significant addition to a wider rollout of equipment and service initiatives to enable increased COVID-19 testing capacity across the APHG laboratory network.

The analyser’s impressive automated functionality allows for more efficient use of staff time, and much larger quantities of tests to be processed in a single testing cycle.

General Manager of APHG’s Wellington SCL lab, Vicki McKnight, said that it was fantastic to see a first batch of 1,000 tests loaded, which had arrived from Auckland.

“Currently the most COVID-19 tests we’ve done is just shy of 5,000 per day. With the addition of the COBAS 6800 and improved workflow, we have the potential to almost double our testing capacity. It provides us with peace of mind in knowing that we’ve strengthened our network in this way, and that we’ll be able to support our colleagues in Tāmaki Makaurau.

APHG CEO Anoop Singh said that investment in this technology is essential for New Zealand’s diagnostic laboratory sector.

“APHG has made significant investments to bolster testing capacity to ensure we play our part in meeting Aotearoa’s increasing need for high testing volumes. The COBAS 6800 in Wellington is another step in that direction.

“It’s no mean feat to get these large pieces of analytical equipment into the laboratories and commission them into operation. A huge amount of credit needs to go to our dedicated staff for their adaptability during these times.”

The German built analyser was acquired through our partnership arrangement with Roche Diagnostics.

Medical Laboratory Scientist Samantha Hutton prepares the COBAS 6800 for its first batch of 1,000 COVID-19 tests.