UK-made Coronavirus tests being sold abroad because labs 'can't cope', manufacturer says

1 April 2020, 15:58

UK made tests are being sold abroad because Uk labs can't cope, it has been claimed
UK made tests are being sold abroad because Uk labs can't cope, it has been claimed. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Coronavirus tests being made in the UK are being sold abroad as the country doesn't have enough labs to test them in, a manufacturing company has said.

Novacyt has made £17.8million selling the tests from its base in Southampton to more than 80 countries, but only £1 million has so far been sold to the UK.

But a shortage of tests in the UK has led to people asking why more tests aren't being bought for the future

Novacyt group marketing manager Achilleas Neophytou the "capacity of testing" was a "limiting factor".

He told the Daily Mail: "A huge lab could also be brought below capacity if you do not have the consumables and instruments you need to run the tests.‘We are supplying 21 hospitals in the UK.

"Some of those serve other hospitals across the country. Some do not have the internal capacity to do these tests.

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Robert Jenrick says there has been trouble getting hold of the chemicals needed to conduct the tests
Robert Jenrick says there has been trouble getting hold of the chemicals needed to conduct the tests. Picture: PA

"So the number of testing kits is not truly representative of what the actual testing capacity of the country is at the moment." 

However, a spokesperson for Public Health England said last night the company was not providing more of the tests because it couldn't "offer the guaranteed continuity of supply we were looking for’.

The government claims the UK is able to test up to 10,000 people a day for the virus, although that number has not been reached yet.

It is hoped that up to 25,000 a day will be able to get tested by mid-April.

UK Housing Minister Robert Jenrick today waded into the furore saying the Government was "trying to ramp up production of testing as quickly as we can" and was working to secure the chemicals required for the tests.

He told LBC's Nick Ferrari that getting access to "all of the ingredients" for the tests had proved "something of a challenge."

But this was at odds with the UK's Chemicals Industry Association who insisted today that the UK has all the required chemicals for the tests.

After asking why one UK company is selling coronavirus tests abroad, Nick Ferrari asked: "People are starting to question the level of candour that is coming from your government as regards to testing kits, as regards to chemicals and these reagents.

"Are you aware there is a line over which you will accidentally tread and they won't believe a word you and your colleagues are saying?"

Mr Jenrick responded: "It's important for a government to always be candid. We have always followed expert medical and scientific opinion. That has been the rail we have clung to with all the decisions we have made."

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