Mega diagnostic testing lab to open in Leamington Spa

The two new laboratories will add 600,000 of daily testing capacity altogether and create up to 4,000 jobs (when operating at full capacity), says the government.

The labs will both use British technology, including automation, robotics and consumables. This means more tests will be processed more quickly and at a lower cost. And they won’t just be used to process COVID-19 tests, but also for critical illness including cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

A recruitment drive has already started for the Leamington Spa lab, and a campaign is due to start shortly in Scotland once site details are confirmed.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The radical expansion of testing has been one of the successes of this pandemic, as it means more people can get a test more conveniently than ever before. We didn’t go into this crisis with a significant diagnostics industry, but we have built one, and these two mega labs are another step forward.

“These mega labs are future-proofing our national infrastructure to respond to future epidemics and improving care for other diseases, such as cancer. The new labs build on our existing testing network which we created in a matter of months.”

Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “The new very high throughput labs are being set up by leaders of science with decades of experience. At the same time, we are creating thousands of jobs for the diagnostics sector to strengthen it now and for the future. Anyone who joins these labs will be offered the opportunity to learn new skills while receiving training in a lab environment.”

Since the start of the pandemic, in addition to developing capacity within the NHS, 5 lighthouse laboratories have been built, with another opening next month. Further partnerships with laboratories and short-term surge have boosted UK testing capacity from 100,000 test per day at the end of April to over 500,000 tests per day at the end of October.