Following the success of the UK’s network of diagnostic testing facilities, and to help further increase lab capacity ahead of winter, a new Lighthouse Lab is set to be opened by NHS Test and Trace in Loughborough by the end of September.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, significant resources and efforts have been directed into expanding Britain’s testing capacity, with the Lighthouse Labs now representing the country’s largest network of diagnostic testing labs.
Due to be brought into the network later this month, the new Loughborough lab is expected to be able to process around 50,000 tests per day by the end of the year.
With rapid testing capabilities forming a vital part of the NHS Test and Trace strategy, and the most recent statistics showing a 63% increase since mid-June in the number of people being tested for the first time, the additional lab capacity will have a significant role to play.
Alongside increased capacity within the Lighthouse Labs network, new large-scale processing units are also being rolled out for use across both NHS and Lighthouse Lab sites.
It also coincides with a £500m funding package which was recently announced to support the development, testing and rollout of new, cutting-edge testing technologies to deliver rapid testing capabilities. Trials of the new tests are already set to be underway in Salford, Southampton and Hampshire over the coming weeks, with plans to expand them wider should they prove successful.
Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Public Health, Baroness Dido Harding, said: “NHS Test and Trace has been operating for more than three months and during that time it has consistently reached the majority of those testing positive and their contacts, almost 330,000 people at risk of unknowingly passing the virus on.
“As the service has become part of our everyday lives, demand for testing has increased. To meet this, we continue our efforts to build and scale testing capacity to reach 500,000 tests per day by the end of October by making use of new tests, new labs and new technology.
“Thanks to all the people who have come forward for a free test, and the vital work of local teams around the country making sure people are aware of testing we are breaking chains of transmission. The advice remains the same: if you have symptoms of coronavirus get tested and if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace, follow the advice you receive.”