Scottish Covid test firm scoops government contract

A Clackmannanshire-based firm has secured a contract with the UK Government to supply rapid lateral flow tests, which are being used for asymptomatic tests in schools and workplaces.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has agreed contracts with Omega Diagnostics, headquartered in Alva in Clackmannanshire, as well as Global Access Diagnostics, based in Thurleigh, England.

The firms will provide manufacturing capacity for up to 200 million tests Covid-19 lateral flow antigen tests which detect positive cases quickly – in under 30 minutes – meaning positive cases can isolate immediately, breaking chains of transmission.

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Omega's lateral flow tests produce fast results.

The contracts are expected to create around 470 extra jobs in total, between Alva and Thurleigh and more widely across the production line and wider UK supply chain.

Colin King, chief executive of Omega Diagnostics Group, said: “We are delighted to deploy our state-of-the-art lateral flow test production facilities in support of the UK Government’s Covid-19 testing programme.

"The collaboration with other UK-based IVD companies and DHSC has facilitated the rapid development and manufacturing capability within the UK.

"We particularly welcome the government’s assistance to secure the specialist machinery needed to dramatically increase the scale of our manufacturing capacity, which has allowed us to ensure a ready supply of high-quality, reliable British made rapid lateral flow tests.

"Rapid lateral flow tests are an essential tool for identifying Covid-19 cases where people have no visible symptoms, but could still be infectious and continue to spread the virus. We are very proud to be playing our part in the nation’s effort to control the spread of coronavirus by using our production facilities in Scotland."

Omega Diagnostics and Global Access Diagnostics are members of the UK Rapid Antigen Test Consortium – a coalition of industry scientists and manufacturers.

Professor Chris Molloy, UK chair of the Rapid Antigen Test Consortium, said: “We have increased manufacturing capacity tenfold and our member’s tests continue to be validated and marketed.

“Numerous bilateral deals have also been agreed between members as a result of industry coming together with intense purpose and leaving competition at the door in order to prioritise the generation of new UK tests and manufacture them at a scale never considered possible."

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