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MedCity-led university Testing Alliance to offer 20,500 extra daily COVID-19 tests

London’s leading life science and academic institutions have united to respond in an unprecedented way to the coronavirus pandemic by ramping up diagnostic testing capacity for the UK.

The Testing Alliance, set up by life sciences cluster MedCity, brings together world-leading universities, healthcare institutes, industry and pathology service providers. They will use untapped resources and build on existing infrastructure to offer at least 20,500 more tests a day for COVID-19 over the coming months and into the new year.

Through the Alliance, Health Service Laboratories in partnership with UCL, King’s Health Partners, Imperial College London and Queen Mary University of London will use existing university and hospital laboratories and launch new laboratories to deliver large-scale diagnostic capabilities. London universities are also involved in the development and manufacture of a potential vaccine.

Neelam Patel, Chief Executive of MedCity, said:

“We build powerful scientific networks and we’re proud that the latest collaboration we’ve brought together will help expand capacity for COVID-19 testing in the UK. 

“By using a well-established academic cluster, we are able to mobilise London’s world-leading institutions to refocus their space, equipment and people on this most pressing and unprecedented healthcare need.”

Health Minister Lord Bethell said:

“This alliance of London universities will form part of our national testing network, which is growing all the time and is already the largest diagnostic network in British History. The world-leading expertise represented by these universities will make a valuable contribution to the national effort of increasing our testing capacity over the coming months to control the spread of coronavirus.”

Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial College London, said:

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, colleagues throughout Imperial have been doing all they can to make the world safer from COVID-19. I am delighted that, thanks to MedCity, Imperial has been able to come together with our peer institutions in London to help meet the critical need for increased COVID-19 testing capacity.”

Jill Lockett, Managing Director of King’s Health Partners, said:

“Offering our local and national population the safety, protection and peace of mind that COVID-19 testing provides is our priority during this pandemic. We have some of the world’s best life sciences facilities in London and together with our partner Academic Health Sciences Centres and MedCity we are committed to harnessing our combined expertise to support capacity, build knowledge and increase understanding. King’s Health Partners, University College London, Imperial College London and Queen Mary University of London are delighted to be launching new laboratory capacity and we welcome the support from the Department of Health and Social Care to do this.”

Professor Steve Thornton, Vice-Principal (Health) at Queen Mary University of London, said:

“Our universities are in a unique position to offer world-class expertise in COVID-19 testing, alongside our continuing research into the disease. This alliance will help address a critical need across the UK for testing and monitoring the spread of COVID-19 infection. Helping our community in these extraordinary times is at the very heart of our engagement and we hope that this alliance will prompt further innovation in COVID-19 disease management.”

Professor David Lomas, UCL Vice-Provost (Health), said:

“Testing is critical to controlling the spread of the virus.  UCL is delighted to be part of this pan-London approach which will greatly add to the Government’s testing capacity.  The MedCity Testing Alliance illustrates what can be achieved when universities, the NHS and the private sector work together to combat COVID-19.” 

Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection Baroness Dido Harding said:

“Everybody involved in NHS Test and Trace is working tirelessly to increase testing capacity to meet demand.

“These new partnership agreements with this alliance of London University Labs will boost capacity by processing tens of thousands of extra tests over the coming months and into the new year.

“I would like to thank everyone at the alliance of London Universities and NHS Test and Trace who has worked so hard to make this partnership happen. It is another great example of different parts of the country coming together to tackle the virus.”

An ambitious logistical effort will now begin so that the alliance labs can get ready to process samples from across the UK to reach a capacity of 20,500 over the coming months.

Med-City is part-funded by the Mayor of London. Other partners supporting the Alliance’s efforts include: the Greater London Authority, NHS, Public Health England, the multi-agency Regional Strategic Testing Group and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).

This content featured in the MedCity October 2020 newsletter. Sign up below to receive content like this once a month, direct to your inbox.

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