Randox ships Covid-19 test kits to Wuhan hospitals

Northern Irish diagnostics firm sees strong global demand for its rapid testing kit

Testing for the coronavirus. Photograph: AP

Testing for the coronavirus. Photograph: AP

 

Randox, the Co Antrim health diagnostics company which has developed a rapid test for the new strain of coronavirus, will start shipping test kits this week to hospitals in China to help in the global fight against Covid-19.

The test, which was developed using the company’s proprietary biochip array technology, identifies Covid-19 and differentiates it from nine other respiratory infections.

According to Mark Campbell, a senior manager with Randox, the biochip-based test kits will enable clinicians to deliver results more quickly and this will help speed up the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

Mr Campbell said the Randox coronavirus biochip tests each individual patient sample for the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, and nine other respiratory viruses, including Sars, Mers, and influenza A and B.

Additionally, the technology can process up to 324 patient samples, generating 3,240 reportable results, over an eight-hour period.

Mr Campbell said hospitals across Wuhan, including the Central Theatre General Hospital of the People’s Liberation Army in Wuhan and the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University, would be among the first medical centres to receive the Randox coronavirus biochip.

Worldwide demand

He said the company was also seeing strong demand for its biochip test kit from other countries and was working with governments and health agencies in Japan, Spain, the Philippines, Vietnam, UAE, Morocco, Mexico and Guatemala. It said it was “actively engaged” with 40 countries worldwide in relation to the coronavirus test.

“There is significant demand for the coronavirus biochip which we are currently manufacturing in Northern Ireland and we also have additional manufacturing capability at our facility in Donegal which we may utilise in this particular case.

“We have the capability to produce 60 million chips a year so we have no issues responding to increased demand,” Mr Campbell added.

Randox has confirmed it is also actively testing samples at its Co Antrim headquarters where it has extensive testing facilities in response to inquiries from businesses that want to be able to offer employees the option of testing for coronavirus.

“We’re strongly advising people to comply fully with the guidance that has been issued by public health authorities on the island: anyone with flu-like symptoms should not go to their GP or hospital but initially get advice over the telephone.

“However, because of corporate demand, we have also developed a self-test kit that organisations can give their employees and which we then organise to have returned to Randox for testing. We are currently getting a lot of interest in these,” Mr Campbell said.