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Randox Leads UK’s International Travel Testing Efforts in Response to New Omicron Variant

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 02 Dec 2021
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Image: Randox Leads UK’s International Travel Testing Efforts in Response to New Omicron Variant (Photo courtesy of Randox Laboratories)
Image: Randox Leads UK’s International Travel Testing Efforts in Response to New Omicron Variant (Photo courtesy of Randox Laboratories)

Randox Laboratories (Crumlin, UK) is leading the UK’s effort to expand PCR testing to support international travel in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The outbreak of Omicron prompted the UK government to announce late on Saturday 27th November that it would stop accepting lateral flow tests as valid entry for international arrivals from Tuesday 30th November. The unexpected move has put pressure on the diagnostics industry to rapidly boost PCR testing efforts to ensure as little disruption as possible to international travel prior to and during the Christmas break. Randox has responded within 48 hours by returning international travel PCR capacity within its laboratories to 180,000 tests per day, with a potential to increase the number further. It has also immediately invested an additional GBP 10 million in consumable materials to enable high volume Day 2 PCR testing with next-day results.

Since the start of the pandemic, Randox has built, equipped and staffed over 80,000 square feet of PCR laboratories. In addition to its Northern Ireland facilities, it has opened further PCR laboratories in Manchester and Greater London and added 1,000 additional staff to support high volume PCR testing 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Randox has processed over 21 million PCR tests to date, including more than 15 million for the UK’s National Testing Programme, and is the only laboratory in the UK to have processed over 100,000 PCR tests in a single day.

“Our 40 years of experience in testing and diagnostics have enabled us to rise to the challenges presented by this national and global crisis. We are proud to continue to provide an efficient service that represents value for money for both the National Testing Programme and the travelling public,” said a Randox spokesperson. “Having expanded our overall workforce in the face of this pandemic to over 3,300 we are well-placed to rapidly redeploy staff in response to the government’s fast decision to switch to PCR testing only for international travelers. These staff redeployments facilitate both laboratory testing and the high-volume preparation and dispatch of the critical sample collection kits that are essential to our service. We currently have a capacity for international travel of 180,000 PCR tests per day and we are confident we will be able to keep pace with demand for these essential tests.”

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