‘Ramp up testing using York labs to beat coronavirus’ says infections expert

Testing for coronavirus at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, in the United States
1 Apr 2020 @ 6.15 pm
| News

Laboratories in and around York should be commandeered as part of a national effort to do thousands more coronavirus tests, an expert said today.

Prof Colin Garner, who runs Antibiotic Research UK based at York Science Park, says: “We are at war in the UK against the Covid-19 virus and we must take war-time measures.”

You can only find out who has and who has had a Covid-19 infection by testing their blood either for the virus or for antibodies against the virus.

Prof Garner says:

  • My understanding is that the UK is building a large testing centre in Milton Keynes. Why wait for this to be built when there are labs and people sitting idle around the UK who could conduct these tests now?

Putting medical staff at risk

Prof Colin Garner. Photograph: Antibiotic Research UK

Many labs across the country could be a part of this national effort, Prof Garner said.

“Every self-respecting medical or bioscience laboratory in the UK will have the necessary equipment to conduct hundreds if not thousands of these tests every day.

“So why has the government not asked / commandeered / enlisted facilities and people to do these tests?”

He has listed these labs in and around York as capable of conducting huge numbers of tests for Covid-19:

  • FERA, Sand Hutton – a government agency lab
  • the Department of Biology, University of York
  • Jack Birch Cancer Research Unit, York
  • Covance Laboratories, Harrogate
  • cancer research laboratories at York, Leeds, Sheffield and Bradford.

He added:

  • It is heartbreaking that we are putting our medical front-line staff at risk when there is a national testing capability that could be used NOW!

    A centralised lab is not the answer. Regional labs should be created and all the above organisations enlisted. We need to be creative here.

    The UK has some of the best scientists and facilities in the world. Let’s get them working to beat Covid-19.