Covid-19: Leamington Spa ‘mega lab’ opens to speed up testing

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By  BBC Health News



The UK’s first testing “mega lab” has opened with the aim of increasing the UK’s daily coronavirus testing capacity.



The Rosalind Franklin laboratory in Leamington Spa is expected to be capable of processing hundreds of thousands of samples a day.




The largest laboratory of its kind in the UK, the government said it would ultimately create up to 1,500 jobs.




It will also play a key role in responding to new variants, it added.




Automation and robotics will also be used at the site to increase capacity for coronavirus testing.




The Leamington laboratory will one of the “centrepieces” of the government’s efforts to manage coronavirus, Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said.




“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,” he said.




The laboratory’s name honours the DNA pioneer Rosalind Franklin, who played a key role in the discovery of the structure of DNA.




One of the most significant elements of the pandemic has been the spread and tracking of different variants of Covid-19.




Cutting edge technology at the laboratory will be used to carry out genome sequencing to confirm known variants and identify new mutations.




The University of Warwick has provided advice and assistance, with a “significant number” of staff and research students already working with the laboratory.




The new centre is similarly working to provide placements and training opportunities for students of Coventry University.




Jobs have also been created in the wider manufacturing and supply chain, the government added.