Firm to test hundreds of Covid-19 patients samples daily for the NHS

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A biotechnology firm will test hundreds of patient samples daily on behalf of the health service.

Censo Biotechnologies claims it will be the first firm north of the border to provide direct Covid-19 testing support for the NHS.

It said NHS Scotland has accepted its offer to test a minimum of 15,000 samples per month for coronavirus.

The Edinburgh-based company has offered the use of their team and laboratory at Roslin, equipped with seven specialist machines for amplifying DNA.

Chief executive officer Mike Hawthorne said: “As soon as mass testing was recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), we knew we could offer significant support to deliver this.

“While we are continuing our existing research with a skeletal staff every available resource is being directed to the Covid-19 effort.”

Censo Bio has offered the use of their 25 strong workforce of scientists to support NHS Scotland labs where possible.

The firm says it is ready to test as soon as the data handling logistics have been devised by NHS Scotland.

It also has a presence in Cambridge where it has donated PPE to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, the main Covid-19 testing site for the area.

Mr Hawthorne added: “We are also working on developing a potent anti-viral cell therapy that would work for any similar virus emerging in the future, something the WHO has warned will likely happen again.

“This therapy could potentially cure the infection in around 12 hours and while it won’t be available in time for Covid-19 with enough funding and government input it is something that could be developed and stockpiled in readiness.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “NHS Scotland is currently on a trajectory to meet targets for increasing capacity within our NHS labs.

“As the situation develops, the required capacity may increase, so the additional support being offered may be invaluable in increasing diagnostic testing capacity in line with demand.

“No contracts have been signed to date with any companies, however discussions are at an advanced stage with a number of organisations who have been identified as high potential in terms of being able to provide the right testing support and capability.”

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