Scottish government buying 300 rapid testing machines and Wales signs up for up to 400.
The Scottish and Welsh governments are buying hundreds of new high-speed Covid-19 testing machines that produce results in 12 minutes and are designed for use in remote areas and by mobile clinics.
The Scottish government has announced it is buying 300 of the machines, which were given emergency, fast-track authorisation by the US government’s federal drugs administration last week.
Ivan McKee, the Scottish minister for trade, investment and innovation, said the highly portable machines were designed for small clinics and mobile testing units dispatched to rural areas and the islands. He expected them to be introduced nationwide by the end of this year.
Test results were uploaded to a cloud-based internet database, he said, allowing details to be shared immediately with health officials involved in tracking cases in sudden outbreaks and new clusters.
The Welsh government said it was also involved in the project and was going through the validation process alongside the Scottish government. It had signed a contract for up to 400 machines and 450,000 tests, subject to their validation.
McKee said the first 30 machines, supplied by the London-based life sciences company LumiraDx, would be in use in September, once validation by NHS officials in Grampian and in Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS boards was complete.
The Scottish government’s £6.76m contract includes buying 500,000 nasal swab test strips being made at the firm’s factory in Stirling.
“The contract with LumiraDx to supply 12-minute test instruments to NHS Scotland is great news for communities across the country and for the global fight against this virus,” McKee said.
“The strips that are part of these testing devices will be manufactured in Scotland supporting local jobs and again highlighting the strength of our life sciences industry.”
Scotland’s islands and the Highlands have largely avoided large outbreaks – with only seven recorded Covid-19 cases in the Western Isles.
But there have been several significant clusters, including the deaths of 10 elderly residents of a care home at Portree in Skye, where the army had to send a mobile testing centre. An outbreak in Shetland led to deaths at a care home on the main island.