Two British companies have secured contracts with the government to supply rapid lateral flow tests, which will help prevent the virus from spreading and stop outbreaks from taking hold as restrictions are carefully lifted.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has agreed contracts with:
Omega Diagnostics, headquartered in Alva in Scotland
Global Access Diagnostics, based in Thurleigh
to provide manufacturing capacity for up to 200 million COVID-19 lateral flow antigen tests, which detect positive cases quickly – in under 30 minutes – meaning positive cases can isolate immediately, breaking chains of transmission.
Around one in three people who have coronavirus do not have symptoms, so to help stop them from unknowingly passing it on, regular rapid testing is essential to find more positive cases. Lateral flow tests are helping children go back to school, keeping healthcare staff safe and making sure businesses can reopen. Including symptomatic and asymptomatic testing programmes, today the government is on track to surpass 100 million tests carried out in the UK.
The contracts are expected to create around 470 additional jobs in total, in Alva in Scotland, Thurleigh in Bedfordshire, and more widely across the production line and wider UK supply chain.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:
Lord Bethell, Minister for Health, said:
Omega and Global Access Diagnostics will have the capacity to produce approximately 2 million tests per week each by the end of May, helping scale up the government’s rapid lateral flow testing programme across the country.
Mark Radford, Executive Director of Global Access Diagnostics, said:
Colin King, CEO of Omega Diagnostics Group plc, said:
Omega Diagnostics and Global Access Diagnostics are members of the UK Rapid Antigen Test Consortium, a growing coalition of industry scientists and manufacturers, who have come together to secure lateral flow tests and manufacturing capability for the UK.
Professor Chris Molloy, Chair UK Rapid Antigen Test Consortium, said: