Scotland’s role in the Covid-19 diagnostic testing response

Science is at the forefront of finding solutions to the Covid-19 global pandemic. The contribution of Scotland's life sciences community to Covid-19 testing research and supply is another great example of how the thriving sector here can support international efforts.

Supply chain 

The availability of accurate, specific and rapid tests for Covid-19 is critical in the management of this global pandemic. Covid-19 diagnostic testing methods adopted over the past 12 months are mainly based on detection of the presence of viral genetic material (molecular assays) from a throat/nose swab.

However, there has also been much effort from the diagnostic industry to develop immunological-based assays to identify the presence of specific viral proteins (antigens) or antibodies against the virus.

The testing process involves complex supply chains that can include sample collection, sample transport, virus extraction, testing and rapid reporting of results. The global demand for testing has impacted on the supply of key equipment/reagents required for testing.

Covid testing centre at Emirates, Glasgow

Global solutions developed in Scotland

Once again, companies in Scotland have risen to these challenges, responding to both an urgent Scottish Government call to support its testing programme, and developing innovative testing methods for customers globally.

1. Hutchison Technologies

Dundee-based Hutchison Technologies, with its ISO 13485 medical quality assured team of employees in China, worked with its network of accredited and approved manufacturers to supply Virus Collection & Transportation Medium Kits for NHS Scotland.

The Hutchison Technologies team in China audited the factories, inspected the goods prior to shipping and managed the logistics operation. This played a major role in addressing urgent shortages within NHS Scotland.

Read more on Hutchison Technologies website

2. E&O Laboratories

E&O laboratories moved quickly to produce a type of Viral Transport Medium (VPSS Solution) that makes the analysis of Covid-19 test samples safer and more straightforward. 

The company used a formulation already used by NHS Scotland laboratories, re-engineering its machines for automation and retraining its staff. This led to the company contracting with NHS Scotland to provide these reagents for Covid-19 sample transport.

Virginia Lucey, Managing Director of E&O said: "Our research and development team worked tirelessly with NHS virology experts to design formulations that will aid reliable testing of Covid-19."

Read more on Life Sciences Scotland website

3. Thermo Fisher Scientific

Thermo Fisher Scientific, with two sites in Scotland, is a key partner in the UK Government network of Lighthouse Laboratories, including the laboratory at the University of Glasgow, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Campus.

The Perth site invested in new capacity in 2020 to make test kits for Covid-19 and continue to do so, albeit at a reduced rate.

Read the full article

6. Glasgow Lighthouse Lab

In addition to the role of Thermo Fisher and the University of Glasgow in supporting the Glasgow Lighthouse Lab, BioAscent and the University of Dundee were involved in the establishment of the lab. Plus, high-throughput industry experts BioClavis are involved in the management of the lab. By November 2021, the lab had analysed more than 20 Million UK Covid-19 tests.

Read the full news article

5. LumiraDx

UK-based LumiraDx, with primary R&D and manufacturing operations in Scotland, has developed a test that uses the LumiraDx Instrument to detect Covid-19 antigen protein from a nasal swab in under 12 minutes.

The company has agreed a £6.76 million deal with NHS Scotland to supply rapid testing machines and tests.

LumiraDx announced a £78 Million investment in its current Scottish operations which could see the number of new jobs created over the next three years eventually reach 750.

Read more about LumiraDx's operations in Scotland

6. Omega Diagnostics

Scottish biotech firm, Omega Diagnostics secured a partnership agreement with DAM Health Limited, a leader in fit-to-fly testing and one of the UK's fastest growing and largest in-clinic and mobile test providers for Covid-19, to supply its VISITECT® professional use Covid-19 antigen Lateral Flow Test.

Read the full news article

7. Quotient

Swiss company Quotient’s research and manufacturing site at Edinburgh was involved in developing a Covid antibody test (MosaiQ Covid-19 Antibody Microarray) which is designed to detect IgG and IgM antibodies against at SARS-CoV-2.

The MosaiQ Covid-19 Antibody Microarray is CE marked and available for distribution in Europe, including Switzerland and Turkey.

Read the full news release

8. Elasmogen

Aberdeen-based Elasmogen is collaborating with the University of Aberdeen on a Scottish Government research award of almost £1 million to tackle Covid-19.

Elasmogen is using its soloMER drug discovery platform to accelerate the development of new point-of-care diagnostics. SoloMERs have advantages over classical antibodies and the company has identified a panel of a new class of binders to the spike protein.

Read more on Elasmogen

Find partners and suppliers

With more than 150 specialist supply chain companies, employing more than 6000 skilled people, Scotland is well-placed to provide innovative and expert solutions to pharma/biotech companies globally. 

From diagnostics to therapeutics, the Scottish Life and Chemical Sciences Directory is your gateway to over 1000 companies and organisations in Scotland.

A scientist placing a slide under a microscope

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