New coronavirus testing laboratory opens in Glasgow

A major new Covid-19 facility that experts hope will be able to carry out tens of thousands of tests a day has opened in Glasgow.

The Lighthouse Lab is hosted by the University of Glasgow at its Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus and officially started testing samples this week.

It is part of a network of diagnostic testing facilities alongside other Lighthouse Lab sites in Milton Keynes and Alderley Park, Cheshire, with the project funded by the UK Government.

The newly operational lab will test samples from regional test centres where NHS staff and front-line workers with suspected Covid-19 infections are tested.

It is hoped the facility will quickly move towards processing several thousand tests per day, before scaling up further to tens of thousands of tests per day.

Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, University of Glasgow vice-principal and head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, who leads the team, said: “I am pleased that after weeks of hard work and continued effort by all involved, the University of Glasgow can now deliver the country’s new, large-scale testing facility, in conjunction with our industry partners and the NHS.

“I remain incredibly grateful to all partners and colleagues who have volunteered their time, expertise and skills for this testing facility.

“As a result of their willingness to help, we have equipped, staffed and set up a new testing facility that is now operational and will be vitally important in the NHS efforts against this coronavirus pandemic.

“It has been said all over the world and confirmed by the WHO that we have to test, test and test more to fight the virus that has killed so many.”

The Lighthouse Labs are being established across the UK to analyse samples taken from regional testing centres.

Key worker testing will be carried out at drive-through centres before samples are assigned and delivered to the closest Lighthouse Lab with capacity.

Cabinet meeeting
Alister Jack said the completion of the lab is a ‘tremendous achievement’ (Aaron Chown/PA)

It is anticipated the Lighthouse Lab in Glasgow will process tests from across the UK but as the number of tests undertaken in Scotland increases, the Glasgow Lab will work to service these in the first instance.

In Scotland, there are currently three regional testing centres in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

The new Glasgow facility will be staffed on a 24/7 basis by around 100 members of staff, while much of the equipment has been sourced from University of Glasgow labs and moved to the new testing centre to make rapid Covid-19 response work possible.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “The UK Government has committed to expanding our testing capacity across the UK.

“The completion of our network with the Lighthouse Lab in Glasgow is a tremendous achievement for all the partners in such challenging circumstances and only five weeks after this project was started.

“Scotland has world-class universities and I am pleased they have been involved in this UK-wide effort as we work together to protect the NHS and save lives.”

The Lighthouse Lab has opened in collaboration with the Scottish Government, industry experts from BioAscent and the University of Dundee, and the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute.

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