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Queen Mary joins alliance offering 20,500 extra COVID-19 tests a day

London’s leading life science and academic institutions have united to respond in an unprecedented way to the coronavirus pandemic by ramping up diagnostic testing capacity for the UK.

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The Testing Alliance, set up by life science cluster MedCity, brings together world-leading universities, healthcare institutes, industry and pathology service providers. They will use untapped resources and build on existing infrastructure to offer at least 20,500 more tests a day for COVID-19 over the coming months and into the new year.

Through the alliance, Queen Mary University of London, UCL, King’s College London and Imperial College London will use existing university and hospital laboratories and launch new laboratories to deliver large-scale diagnostic capabilities.

An ambitious logistical effort will now begin so that the alliance labs can get ready to process samples from across the UK starting from November and reach a capacity of 20,500 samples a day over the coming months.

At Queen Mary’s labs in Charterhouse Square, Professor Mauro Perretti (Dean for Research and Research Impact) and Dr Belinda Nedjai (Senior Lecturer in Molecular Epidemiology and Epigenetics) have led the coordination of staff and infrastructure to process at least 200,000 COVID-19 samples from the general population between December and March.

Professor Steve Thornton, Vice-Principal (Health) at Queen Mary University of London, said: “Our universities are in a unique position to offer world-class expertise in COVID-19 testing, alongside our continuing research into the disease. This alliance will help address a critical need across the UK for testing and monitoring the spread of COVID-19 infection. Helping our community in these extraordinary times is at the very heart of our engagement and we hope that this alliance will prompt further innovation in COVID-19 disease management.”

Neelam Patel, Chief Executive of MedCity, said: “We work to create powerful scientific networks and we’re proud that the latest collaboration we’ve brought together will help expand capacity for COVID-19 testing in the UK.

“By bringing together King’s Health Partners, University College London, Imperial College London and Queen Mary University of London, we mobilised London’s world-leading institutions to refocus their space, equipment and people on this most pressing and unprecedented healthcare need.”

Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “This alliance of London universities will form part of our national testing network, which is growing all the time and is already the largest diagnostic network in British History. The world-leading expertise represented by these universities will make a valuable contribution to the national effort of increasing our testing capacity over the coming months to control the spread of coronavirus.”

Med-City is part-funded by the Mayor of London. Other partners supporting the Alliance’s efforts include: the Greater London Authority, NHS, Public Health England, the multi-agency Regional Strategic Testing Group, and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).

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