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CapitalBio’s mobile lab plays role in Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics nucleic acid detection



A fully integrated mobile laboratory for SARS CoV-2 nucleic acid detection, named "Light Cavalry" and developed by CapitalBio Technology, was used during the Beijing Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics, providing real-time on-site nucleic acid detection for heads of state and political figures from all over the world who attended the event in Beijing.



The fully integrated mobile laboratory for SARS CoV-2 nucleic acid detection at the Capital Airport [Photo/Wechat account:qinghuachanye]


The fully integrated mobile laboratory for SARS CoV-2 nucleic acid detection provides real-time on-site nucleic acid detection at VIPs’ places of residence. [Photo/Wechat account:qinghuachanye]

To ensure nucleic acid detection for the Beijing Olympic Winter Games, CapitalBio Technology, a subsidiary of CapitalBio Corporation, dispatched six "Light Cavalry" mobile labs for SARS CoV-2 nucleic acid detection, which included rapid sample collection, testing, quality control, report results, and uploading of testing data.

The mobile laboratory is the first of its kind in China that can integrate collection and testing, and is also the first loaded on a light bus.

It got the name "Light Cavalry" from Zhong Nanshan, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and leading Chinese respiratory disease expert, as it can respond quickly and be deployed flexibly to any site where it is needed.

The "Light Cavalry" Mobile Lab for SARS CoV-2 Nucleic Acid Detection is a major emergency research project of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, a scientific and technological emergency project of the Sichuan Provincial Department of Science and Technology in response to COVID-19, and a real-time detection achievement developed by CapitalBio Technology and Tsinghua University.

Using a 220 volt outlet or generator built into the vehicle, the mobile laboratory allows pharyngeal swab sampling both manually and by a robot arm. 

The vehicle is equipped with a fully integrated chip laboratory system for SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid detection, which was researched and developed by CapitalBio and Tsinghua University. The system can complete the whole testing process within 45 minutes, and can detect positive samples of SARS CoV-2 in just 35 minutes, achieving testing sensitivity as low as 150 copies/ml.

Related research results were published in 2021 in Clinical Chemistry, an authoritative journal in international laboratory medicine. A video of the Fully Integrated Chip Laboratory System for SARS-CoV-2 Nucleic Acid Detection launched by Professor Cheng Jing, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering and Tsinghua University professor, as well as his team from CapitalBio, won the 2021 CAETS Communications Prize for Engineering Success Stories.

At a press conference held by the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council on January 29, 2022, new requirements were put forward for rapid testing. Fever clinics were encouraged to be equipped with SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid rapid testing reagents and supporting equipment, so as to reduce the observation time of fever patients and reduce cross-sectional risk of infection.

Among the recommended reagents and supporting equipment, the fully integrated chip laboratory system for SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid detection ranked highest for its detection sensitivity.

Compared with fixed laboratories and large vehicle-mounted laboratories, the "Light Cavalry" is small and maneuverable, and can travel more flexibly to adapt to various application scenarios, such as ports, airports, terminals and other special epidemic prevention areas, and provide on-site real-time nucleic acid detection for conferences and activities, and for key groups of people.

The mobile lab has been deployed in Lu’an, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Nanjing, Huai’an, Mianyang, Zhengzhou, and Wuhan to provide fast and convenient on-site testing.


In addition, it was used in COVID-19 prevention and control for the CCTV Spring Festival Gala in 2021 and 2022 and major events such as the 100-day countdown to the opening of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Based on its advanced "lab-on-a-chip" design concept, the device simplifies the whole testing procedure. The only manual step is to add sample preservation fluid to the chip and put it in an automatic analyzer, which takes less than one minute.

The whole biological process, including nucleic acid exaction, purification, amplification, fluorescent testing, and interpretation of the test results, is integrated into a self-contained and internally partitioned microfluidic chip, which eliminates the need for a separated high biosafety level laboratory.

There is no need for manual intervention, which minimizes the risk of operator infection and cross-contamination among samples.