The labs in Leamington Spa and Scotland will add 600,000 to the UK’s daily testing capacity when operating at full capacity, meaning faster turnaround times for test results.
Today the government is announcing the opening of 2 new ‘megalabs’ which will become operational in early 2021. The 2 labs, based in Leamington Spa with a second lab located in Scotland, will each add 300,000 to the UK’s daily testing capacity when operating at full capacity.
Cutting-edge technology made by British manufacturers will be used in both labs, including automation, robotics and consumables. This means more tests will be processed more quickly and at a lower cost, and therefore faster turnaround times for test results.
As part of its response to COVID-19, the government has already established the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities in British history. The announcement today of these next generation of diagnostic facilities represents an investment in the UK’s epidemic response infrastructure for the future. Not only will the 2 labs be used to process COVID-19 tests, but the significant boost in diagnostic capabilities will be used for critical illness including cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
The new labs will generate local employment, with each very high throughput laboratory having a multi-skilled workforce of up to 2,000 people once fully staffed, and operating at full capacity 24/7, including the associated manufacturing and supply chain. A recruitment drive has already started for the Leamington Spa lab, and a campaign is due to start shortly in Scotland once site details are confirmed.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:
Health Minister Lord Bethell said:
Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, Baroness Dido Harding, said:
Since the start of the pandemic, in addition to developing capacity within the NHS, 5 lighthouse laboratories have been built, with another opening next month. Further partnerships with laboratories and short-term surge have boosted UK testing capacity from 100,000 test per day at the end of April to over 500,000 tests per day at the end of October.
The government is committed to continue expanding the capacity of the network of 650 UK test sites and laboratories to make it even easier to get tested and reduce the time it takes to receive test results, with the median distance needed to travel to a test centre at just 2.7 miles.