Glasgow University to host new Covid-19 testing facility

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image copyrightJane Barlow
image captionMore than 15,500 people in Scotland have been tested for Covid-19

Glasgow University will host a major coronavirus testing facility to boost national efforts to combat the pandemic.

The laboratory, which is supported by the Scottish government and industry experts, will begin analysing samples in mid-April.

Based on the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus it will provide for "substantially more" Covid-19 tests.

Earlier First Minister Nicola Sturgeon promised a big increase in testing.

Ms Sturgeon said she hoped Scotland would have the capacity to carry out 3,500 tests a day by the end of the month.

image copyrightGlasgow University
image captionThe laboratory, on the QEUH campus, is currently Glasgow University's Clinical Innovation Zone

The new facility will be staffed round-the-clock by more than 500 volunteers including molecular scientists, technicians and bioinformaticians.

The Glasgow centre is one of a number of new hub laboratories which will be opened across the UK to boost testing.

The centres will be coordinated by the Medicines Discovery Catapult, and the project supported by partners Thermo Fisher Scientific, BioAscent Discovery Ltd and Dundee University.

Amazon, Boots and Royal Mail are also involved, alongside the Wellcome Trust.

'Major undertaking'

Glasgow University vice principal Prof Dame Anna Dominiczak, said: "The World Health Organisation has been clear that testing is essential to push back the spread of this new coronavirus.

"I am incredibly grateful to all colleagues who have volunteered their time, expertise and skills for this testing facility.

"As a result of their willingness to help, we have a team of highly skilled people, a clinical space and the core equipment to start work alongside our NHS colleagues immediately."

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman hailed the volunteers who have helped make the project possible.

She added: This is clearly a major undertaking. When it becomes operational, the centre will make a significant difference in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic."

Jane Grant, chief executive of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said the additional capacity would "significantly enhance testing capabilities".

Glasgow University is also supporting the national response with its Centre for Virus Research which was last week named as one of 13 key UK centres working on Covid-19 whole genome sequencing.

It will work with partners to map how coronavirus spreads and behaves in populations around the country.

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