England’s PCR testing community for Covid is to be scaled again as a consequence of a fall in demand, public well being officers have mentioned.
The UK Well being Safety Company (UKHSA) mentioned that the Rosalind Franklin laboratory in Leamington Spa – which at its peak was processing about 75,000 Covid PCR assessments a day – will stop to function as a part of the processing community.
PCR assessments will now be processed by current NHS laboratories alone, lowering the variety of websites from three to 2.
“This alteration is feasible because of vaccines and lateral circulate assessments persevering with to assist preserve individuals secure and lowering the present want for PCR testing,” UKHSA mentioned in a press release. It added that PCR testing might be scaled up rapidly if obligatory, for instance, if a regarding new Covid variant emerged, or if a brand new pandemic occurred sooner or later.
UKHSA mentioned the transfer would guarantee worth for cash for taxpayers and meant the ability might be used for different functions.
The Rosalind Franklin laboratory, named after one of many key figures within the discovery of the construction of DNA, started processing PCR assessments in June 2021. It’s the newest web site to stop such operations, with processing already halted at plenty of different websites inside the Lighthouse laboratory community.
The foremost wind-down of amenities got here within the wake of an finish to free PCR testing for most individuals with Covid signs.
Oliver Munn, chief working officer for Covid-19 testing at UKHSA, praised employees on the Rosalind Franklin laboratory.
“The lab has processed over 8.5 million samples since its opening and has performed an enormous function in defending the nation,” he mentioned.
Nonetheless Prof James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute – which isn’t related with the laboratory regardless of an analogous title – warned that the pandemic just isn’t over, and that there’s nonetheless work to be accomplished, together with in bettering air high quality indoors and stopping and treating lengthy Covid.
Whereas Naismith added that it’s for the UKHSA to guage the best way to meet the demand for diagnostic PCR assessments, he burdened genomic surveillance – which depends on PCR assessments – stays vital.
“The important thing factor for the UK is to adequately surveil the vary of variants within the nation, attempting to identify traits in newly rising strains,” he mentioned. “The UK has in my opinion been a world chief in a lot of this work and our insights have helped individuals throughout the globe. I’d hope that is preserved.”
Ravi Gupta, professor of medical microbiology on the College of Cambridge, agreed.
“The choice to scale down testing is comprehensible given pressures confronted by the UK,” he mentioned. “Nonetheless we should always retain the choice to scale up if wanted and preserve vigilance for brand spanking new variants locally by the ONS Covid-19 examine.”