Leamington’s innovative coronavirus testing “giant laboratory” still has hundreds of jobs. The facility is the first of its kind in the UK and is hailed as part of future government testing and tracking capabilities.
The novel laboratory is now formally open and has begun managing hundreds of thousands of Covid-19 samples to quickly detect new variants and help end the spread of the virus. When operating at total capacity, this giant laboratory, known as the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory, will create as many as 1,500 jobs when fully staffed.
At present, 300 people on the team, with more than 700 set to join shortly. The government has revealed that around 60 per cent of the staff hired so far live within 30 miles of the site.
As part of the UK’s NHS testing and tracking network, the laboratory is the largest of its kind in the UK and will use the most advanced technology to pave the way for processing up to 150,000 test instruments per day.
It will also lead to conducting genotyping tests, using ePCR machines to quickly detect Covid-19 mutations, indicating whether the positive test samples contain known mutations, and sequencing the genome to confirm known mutations and identify new mutations.
This will aid the UK’s disease detectives in trying and restraining outbreaks, using tools, for instance, surge testing. It will be managed by former deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries, who explained its importance.
“Our mission at the UK Health Security Agency is to learn the lessons of this global pandemic and positively harness them in how we prepare and steel ourselves against future health threats. The pandemic has provided us with clear evidence, daily, that you can only challenge viruses of this kind with the proper testing and genomics infrastructure in place,“.said the new chief executive of the UKHSA.
“The Rosalind Franklin Laboratory is going to be a critical scientific addition to how we manage this virus in the months ahead, arming us with data and intelligence on the spread of variants that will inform decision-making and ultimately save lives.”