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New laboratory opened at Cambridge University to help Gov reach the goal of 100,000 a day coronavirus testing

A new laboratory is being opened at Cambridge University to help the government reach its goal of 100,000 daily coronavirus tests

  • Laboratory is ‘joint collaboration’ with giants AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline
  • The government has pledged to run 100,000 tests a day by the end of April
  • The tests were part of Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s five-pillar plan

Cambridge University has set up a coronavirus testing lab to help meet the government’s target of 100,000 a day.

The facility at the University’s Anne McLaren laboratory is a ‘collaborative partnership’ with pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline as part of a ‘national effort’ to increase testing capacity.

Scientists will process tests and work to identify alternative chemical reagents for those currently in use that are in short supply.

The government has pledged to take 100,000 tests per day by the end of April, and Secretary of State Dominic Raab insisted “good progress” was made yesterday.

These tests were part of Health Secretary Matt Hancock's five-pillar plan to increase testing

These tests were part of Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s five-pillar plan to increase testing

But Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty seemed to admit mistakes had occurred in this country’s first test response. He added, “We all know that Germany has made progress in testing the virus, and there is much to learn from that.”

The 100,000 target has been compromised because there is no successful antibody test, which determines whether people have had the disease.

These tests were part of Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s five-pillar plan to increase testing.

Mr Raab would not say whether this meant that the government would now focus solely on conducting 100,000 antigen tests, which show whether people have the virus. He said, “There is a lot of demand for many of these things, but we are doing everything we can to get all the testing capabilities we need on all fronts. But yes, the health secretary’s goal of 100,000 a day is still there. ‘

Figures from the Department of Health show that 14,006 tests were carried out on Monday

Figures from the Department of Health show that 14,006 tests were carried out on Monday

Figures from the Department of Health show that 14,006 tests were carried out on Monday

NHS scientists claimed that the health secretary’s promise to test 100,000 people a day in late April was impossible due to a lack of essential testing equipment.

They said there were major shortages of reagents – chemicals that extract the genetic code of the virus from swabs so they can be tested.

But the Cambridge facility aims to solve this problem by looking at alternative chemicals. The facility was announced in a joint statement from the university, AstraZeneca and GSK.

It said, “A new testing laboratory … will be used for high throughput screening for Covid-19 tests and to investigate the use of alternative chemical reagents for test kits.

“In addition to this new testing facility, GSK and AstraZeneca are working together to provide support to the UK National Test Centers … to help the National Test System further expand capacity.”

Figures from the Department of Health show that 14,006 tests were carried out on Monday.

This is significantly behind other countries, including Germany, where approximately 70,000 people are tested daily.

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