Enabling COVID-19 testing advancements

NHS National Services Scotland is working in partnership to enable a new COVID-19 testing advancement for NHSScotland

A new supply chain is now established for the supply of VPSS (Viral PCR Sample Solution) added test tubes. This supply will help advance efficiencies during the testing turnaround process, and further improve the safety of lab workers carrying out the tests.

Scottish biotech firm E&O Laboratories Limited headquartered in Bonnybridge, has landed the framework worth up to £7 million with NHS Scotland (NHSS).

They worked in partnership with the Scottish Government, NHS National Services Scotland, and Scottish Enterprise, with testing and lab capabilities in NHS Lothian and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Specialist Virology Centres. These combined efforts have fast-tracked testing and development, ensuring the product meets all required standards.

The first batch for NHS Scotland is now in production at E&O's site in Cumbernauld. E&O will also be supporting supply to other parts of the UK.

This level of production and boost to their business has seen the creation of 11 jobs over the last three months, with 10 more positions still recruiting to support production capacity.

The innovation benefit 

The supply of ‘VPSS added’ test tubes offers benefits to the overall safety and efficiencies of testing. By placing VPSS within each tube, test samples that contain COVID-19 are now made safe within the tube itself. By the time it is then transported to the lab, it is immediately ready for testing. This streamlines the testing process. Plus importantly, lab technicians do not need to reopen the tubes to apply any pretesting solution in the lab environment.

Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation Ivan McKee said: “Since the start of this pandemic the Scottish Government has supported many Scottish businesses to innovate and alter their production processes, allowing us to be less reliant on global supply chains.

“E&O’s work in this area secures a Scottish supplier of a crucial testing chemical that not only streamlines the testing process and supports our national Test and Protect programme, it will also further improve the safety of lab workers carrying out these essential tests.

“We continue to work hard to secure new supply chains for both immediate and future needs, with a particular focus on domestic manufacturing to ensure sustainability and self-sufficiency.”

Virginia Lucey, Managing Director of E&O commented, “E&O reinvented themselves in a period of six weeks from core Microbiology to Virology, as a result of the UK emergency shortage of Viral Transport Medium. Our Research & Development team worked tirelessly with NHS virology experts to design formulations that will aid reliable testing of Covid-19.

"We are currently manufacturing over half a million units a week and this will double in July. Our ONE-TEAM approach has delivered a fully compliant product on time and is helping the NHS to save lives”.

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