OpenCell is working with the Government of Jersey to provide on-island testing to support the island’s COVID-19 testing programme. As a part of the programme, all passengers arriving by sea or air are swab tested at the point of arrival.

OpenCell’s CONTAIN lab is built in a shipping container for remote deployment and is optimised for COVID diagnostics using real-time PCR tests. This remains the gold-standard testing method due to its high sensitivity. By focusing exclusively on COVID diagnostics the lab is capable of extremely high throughput with up to 2000 tests per day tested. By doing testing in this way it takes pressure off hospital pathology labs who already have to conduct hundreds of different tests for their patients.

Located close to the airport, the lab processes swabs collected from arriving passengers and offers fast results with average swab-to-result in below 12 hours. By testing all arriving passengers allows the Island to identify positive cases more quickly and speed up the contact tracing process. This in turn helps to prevent overburdening the hospital and ensures patients who need care for ongoing illnesses are not disrupted or put at risk by accessing services.

“Community testing must be targeted. Fewer tests, with the shortest turnaround time and the highest sensitivity, at ports of entry can stop COVID outbreaks before they start.” said Helene Steiner, co-founder and CEO. “CONTAIN labs can move to exactly where they are needed reducing turnaround time and cost.”

Dr Ivan Muscat, Jersey’s Deputy Medical Officer of Health, said: "The OpenCell CONTAIN COVID-19 laboratory has increased the Island’s on-island testing capacity. By reducing the time from when a test is taken to providing a result, it significantly reduces both the risk of COVID-19 to the Island and inconvenience to islanders who are isolating until their first test result. Because of this and it’s additional role in internal surveillance and case finding Opencell will be playing a key role in keeping the island safe this winter.”

About OpenCell

OpenCell was founded in June 2018 to provide biotech startups with lab space and have grown to 70 shipping containers in White City, London. Since the pandemic Opencell have been converting developing testing laboratories to support the COVID-19 response.

Direct queries to Helene Steiner:

Company webpage:

Social Media(insta/twitter/facebook/linkedin): @opencelllondon

Youtube Channel:

Pictures and Graphic: credit OpenCell

Previous Press:

  • BBC Click, “Tech and the test for Covid19” - television - first aired 21 Mar 2020
  • BBC London, 1 o’clock news report - television - first aired 1.30pm 18 Mar 2020
  • Observer, “Buildings made from fungi? Meet London’s pop-up bio-lab innovators,” Tom J Ireland, first published Sat 25 Aug 2018 18.00 BST - newspaper
  • Guardian, “Ruby Tandoh: how I was turned into a human cheese,” Ruby Tandoh, first published Mon 13 May 2019 10.00 - newspaper