#WeAreTogether: University lab kit boosts UK testing capacity24 April 2020
Laboratory equipment for COVID-19 testing has been loaned by the University of Reading to help boost national capacity for testing NHS and social care workers.
The University has provided three high-tech RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) machines to be used to test frontline health and care workers, to contribute to the second pillar of the Government’s ‘five pillar strategy’ to increase diagnostic testing capacity for the coronavirus.
The machines, which were made available on 18 April and collected by soldiers of the Army’s Royal Logistic Corps, have been sent to a testing facility in Northern Ireland following a request by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock.
Professor Parveen Yaqoob, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, said:
“We are proud to play our part in supporting efforts to increase diagnostic testing for COVID-19 by loaning equipment to the national effort.
“The University is working to support the efforts by NHS and other healthcare professionals against COVID-19 in any way we can – from our scientists studying the virus and informing the public, to sharing our equipment with the NHS, and supporting the heroes on the frontline in our hospitals.”
RT-PCR machines are crucial part of laboratory tests to indicate if a patient has COVID-19 or not. Diagnostic lab technicians use them to search for the presence of the virus’s genetic material in swabs taken from a patient’s mouth. However, the machines and other lab items have been in short supply globally as governments seek to ramp up testing capacity.
Wider support for healthcare professionals in COVID-19 pandemic
The University of Reading is continuing to work with the NHS and Royal Berkshire Hospital, as well as other local partners, to see how its expertise and facilities can be used to support them and help the community during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Reading scientists have been contributing work to deal with the pandemic, including analysing the virus protein to assist vaccine development and working on technology that could aid diagnostic testing.
Academics in a number of subjects have also been helping keep the public informed by providing expert comment and analysis on the latest developments via mainstream and social media. This has ranged from health experts explaining the likely risk of contamination or mental effects of isolation, to tips on home-schooling and the impact on the economy and business.