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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Robot-Operated Covid-19 Testing Lab in Islamabad

British High Commissioner Dr. Christian Turner inaugurated Pakistan's first robot-operated Covid-19 testing lab in Islamabad.

Future Trust, a Pakistani Non-Profit Organization (NPO) supported by JS Group, has launched a new initiative, “Future Lab” in November to help increase the country’s rapid covid-19 testing and diagnostic capacity. This is in partnership with a British technology firm, OpenCell UK. First such robotic mobile lab has been set up in Rawalpindi.

This is an innovative idea, as labs can be shipped from the UK in 40 feet containers, costs are affordable, set up is quick and easy, and labs can be moved at short notices. Built in the United Kingdom by OpenCell UK, the laboratory is a Biosafety Level 2 plus (BSL- 2+) facility built to ISO 15189 standards. The state-of-art lab is specified to meet the requirements for high throughput Covid-19 RT-qPCR testing.

Due to the use of 5 liquid handling robots, this lab requires as little as six staff members to operate all the shifts. The lab can process over 2000 tests per day – which makes it very efficient. While speaking at the event, High Commissioner Dr Christian Turner thanked Ambassador Ali Jehangir Siddiqui for “making him excited about the project”.

Read more: Pakistan, UK partner up to create highly advanced ‘robotic’ COVID-19 testing lab

He highlighted various reasons why he thought Future Labs was something to celebrate. The first, he said, “is because this lab is a vibrant example of a UK-Pakistan relationship built on people, that I am privileged to serve in the middle of”.

Secondly, he noted, “UK is proud of having been in the forefront of the fight against Covid-19 in its efforts to pursue a vaccine and its distribution internationally, as well as for providing development assistance to a broad spectrum of Covid relief, through UK Aid, to Pakistan”. He added that this is a story of economic growth and trade and that he is very keen to boost inclusive and export-led economic growth through more collaborations such as this.

Robot Operated Covid-19 Lab

Ambassador Ali Jehangir Siddiqui, Pakistan’s Ex-Ambassador to the US and currently Ambassador-at-Large for Foreign Investments, said “I would like to thank His Excellency Dr Christian Turner for joining us and supporting this project. This partnership between entities in the UK and Pakistan is of importance to us not just because the two countries are so close but also because this represents a partnership in life sciences which is the need for the world at this moment in time.

Read more: Future Trust launched Robot-Operated Covid-19 Testing Lab in Islamabad

Recognizing the UK’s excellence and leadership in life sciences, we look forward to more such partnerships in the near future.” Commenting on the partnership, Dr Azeem Butt, Head of Molecular Biology for Future Labs, stated that it was heartening to see corporate organizations such as JS Bank and Future Trust working on innovation in science to fight Covid-19.

Future Trust is a non-profit philanthropic organization, set up by JS Group, in 2015 that seeks to use advanced technology to address the problems caused by poverty.

Future Trust is a non-profit philanthropic organization, set up by JS Group, in 2015 that seeks to use advanced technology to address the problems caused by poverty. It is currently headed by Mr Suleiman Lallani and supervises all CSR activities of the JS Group; it’s principally supported by the JS Group and some other donors. CSR activities undertaken by the Future Trust since 2015 include medical relief camps, hospitals, flood relief and poverty alleviation activities.


A specialized hospital for the deaf is also working with the support of Future Trust. OpenCell, which partners with Future Trust is also a very interesting new idea. It was launched in London, UK, in 2018. Seventy shipping containers in Shepherd’s Bush London have been transformed into affordable bio laboratories for biotechnology start-ups.

Read more: Pakistan sees highest COVID-19 fatalities in 4 months

Each private specialist lab provided to a partner company, like Future Trust, comes with a sink, benching, wifi, electricity, water at an affordable cost. OpenCell also helps on getting the specialist essentials up and running (e.g., fume cupboards, extraction, CO2 or other gases). Laboratories can work on synthetic biology, CRISPR, DNA sequencing, therapeutics, biologics, hardware, bioelectronics, software, biomaterials, bioplastics and more.