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: “The radical expansion of testing has been one of the successes of this pandemic, as it means more people can get a test more conveniently than ever before. We didn’t go into this crisis with a significant diagnostics industry, but we have built one, and these 2 mega labs are another step forward. Transforming the UK’s diagnostic facilities is not only essential to beating this virus, but it is necessary to build back better – so we are better prepared in future for testing on a massive scale.
“These mega labs are future-proofing our national infrastructure to respond to future epidemics and improving care for other diseases, such as cancer. The new labs build on our existing testing network which we created in a matter of months and confirms the UK as a world leader in diagnostics.
“The work going on in these labs is ultimately working to save lives and I am hugely grateful for everyone who has worked so hard to achieve this.”