Hologic, specialists in molecular diagnostics with over 30 years’ experience in population screening and testing, has revealed its role in building the UK’s capability to fight COVID-19 and restart the economy by containing outbreaks and identifying a potential second wave. Working with the UK government, the company has been able to expand the UK’s testing capacity by leveraging the existing extensive nationwide network of highly automated machines that have been supporting the cervical screening programmes for nearly a decade.
The automated Panther® system runs Hologic’s CE marked COVID-19 test (Aptima® SARS-CoV-2 assay), which detects the presence of the virus and can be produced in high quantities. There are nearly 100 of these fully automated, high-throughput molecular diagnostic platforms already installed in 50 labs across the UK, which are and widely used for other national screening programmes, such as cervical health. Each Panther system can process up to 1,000 coronavirus tests in 24 hours and provide initial results in approximately three and a half hours.
The combination of the existing widespread instrument infrastructure and the company’s test are helping to underpin the UK government’s ability to expand its testing capabilities to the scale and frequency needed to keep infection numbers low and to support NHS Test and Trace. Both are crucial for restarting the economy by containing local hotspots as well as monitoring to identify the risk of a second wave.
Jan Verstreken, Regional President EMEA & Canada, Hologic, said:
“There is widespread recognition that the ability to run large scale COVID-19 testing programmes is central to mitigating the health and economic impact of lockdown and reducing the risk of a second wave of infection. Our experience in molecular technology and in delivering significant testing capacity makes us well placed to help support this continuing public health challenge.”
To increase the supply of this COVID-19 test and strengthen the UK’s diagnostic infrastructure, Hologic has rapidly expanded its Manchester manufacturing facility to significantly increase production capacity. The site will supply the UK and the rest of Europe. Importantly, this also expands the company’s capacity to support future testing needs, allowing it to broaden its portfolio of assays across women’s health and infectious diseases, whilst at the same time being able to flex and scale to meet emergent health threats.
Adrian Smith, UK General Manager, Hologic, added:
“Our investment in our Manchester manufacturing facilities enables us to support significantly increased testing capability in the UK but has also resulted in more jobs during a time of uncertainty. Scaling our production this quickly has not been easy and we’re proud of our teams and partners across the region and globe for their commitment to our purpose. By working together and with public bodies, we are all contributing to countries safely returning to the new normal.”
Hologic delivers significant testing capacity to vital national cervical and breast cancer screening programmes. The Panther’s sophisticated automation system allows COVID-19 tests to run simultaneously with sexual health, cervical health and virology tests, enabling labs to utilise all capacity as vital cancer screening and diagnostic testing resumes and the drive towards alleviating the screening backlog continues.
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