Covid in Scotland: Construction of testing 'mega lab' halted

  • Published
covid testingImage source, Getty Images

Construction of a Covid-19 testing "mega lab" in Scotland is to be halted, the UK government has announced.

The site was expected to add 300,000 to the UK's daily testing capacity for coronavirus.

Along with another lab in Leamington Spa in the Midlands, it was due to be operational early this year.

However, work on the Scottish lab at an undisclosed location has stopped while the UK government assesses "the long-term demand" for it.

The Scottish government previously said setting up the lab would be "an important step in our fight against the virus".

Confirming the halt in construction, the UK's Department of Health and Social Care said the move would not prevent anyone from getting a test.

Other illnesses

A spokeswoman said: "Since the start of the pandemic, the UK has increased the capacity of our laboratories by more than tenfold, as well as setting up an entirely new nationwide network of lighthouse labs and partner laboratories to process Covid-19 swab samples.

"With the vaccine rollout under way across the UK, development of one of the planned, very high throughput labs has been paused until the impact of the vaccine on the long-term demand for PCR testing can be assessed.

"Substantial testing capacity remains in place and this will not prevent anyone from getting a test."

When the construction of the two labs was announced in November last year, it was predicted that they would create up to 4,000 jobs.

Scotland's Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said at the time that the Scottish lab would "significantly" increase testing and diagnostic capacity.

The lab was also due to be used to process tests for other illnesses including cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.