New megalab opens to bolster fight against Covid-19

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UK’s first megalab opens in Royal Leamington Spa – one of the centrepieces of UK’s future test and trace infrastructure

The UK’s first testing megalab, the Rosalind Franklin laboratory in Royal Leamington Spa, has opened and will be processing hundreds of thousands of Covid-19 samples every day to rapidly detect new variants and help stop the spread of the virus.

As part of the NHS Test and Trace network, the laboratory is the biggest of its kind in the UK and will use cutting-edge technology to process even more tests and adopt the pioneering new genotype assay testing to quickly identify variants of concern and new mutations. This will help the UK’s disease detectives take action to supress outbreaks as society reopens, using tools such as surge testing.

The Rosalind Franklin Laboratory will create up to 1,500 jobs when fully staffed, with over 300 people on-boarded already and over 700 more joining in the near future. Around 60 per cent of the staff hired so far coming from within 30 miles of the site.

“The UK Health Security Agency is going to put us at the forefront of the global battle against Covid-19 and help us stay a step ahead of new and emerging future threats,” said Heath Secretary Sajid Javid.

“Trailblazing technologies are going to be pivotal to delivering on this bold ambition and I’m delighted that today we are bolstering our capabilities in testing and genomic sequencing with the opening of the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory.

“This Laboratory will be one of the centrepieces of our efforts to manage this virus in the future, processing hundreds of thousands of positive Covid-19 tests a day to help us stop cases becoming outbreaks.

“Testing has already been instrumental in helping us control the virus and it is going to be essential to continue to protect ourselves and our communities in the months ahead. I’d urge everyone to take up our offer of free, twice weekly rapid testing,” he added on July 13.

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Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.