Two new coronavirus megalabs are slated to open next year, doubling the UK’s daily testing capacity.
The government has announced that one will be in England and the other in Scotland.
A laboratory will be located at Leamington Spa, but the Scottish location has not yet been confirmed.
According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare (DHSC), they can process up to 600,000 samples per day at full capacity.
The latest data on the government’s coronavirus dashboard shows capacity on Sunday was an estimated 519,951 – with 379,955 tests actually being processed.
This increased daily capacity of 300,000 in each lab means faster turnaround times for results, according to DHSC, while each facility will employ up to 2,000 people once they are fully occupied.
These new diagnostic facilities will not only perform Covid-19 tests, but will also be used for critical diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
A recruitment campaign for the Leamington Spa laboratory has already started and a campaign is expected to begin shortly in Scotland, the government said.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “We haven’t gotten into this crisis with a major diagnostics industry, but we have built one and these two mega-labs are another step forward.”
“Not only is the reorganization of diagnostic facilities in the UK important to fighting this virus, it is also necessary to achieve better deconstruction. This will make us better prepared for large-scale testing in the future.”
He added, “The work in these labs ultimately works to save lives and I am very grateful to everyone who worked so hard to make this happen.”
Scottish Health Minister Jeane Freeman described the Scottish laboratory as “an important step in our fight against the virus” but said its location has not yet been confirmed.
“The location of the Megalab in Scotland has yet to be confirmed and we are working closely with our colleagues in the UK government on this,” she said.
Baroness Dido Harding, Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, added: “We have already reached our goal of 500,000 test capacities per day by the end of October, but we haven’t stopped.
“Our laboratory network includes the NHS, academia, the nonprofit and the private sector. The addition of these new laboratories will mean another step in our testing capacity over the next year.
“Not only does this mean more tests, it also means they can be processed faster and the time it takes to get results is reduced.”