Molecular diagnostics firm Hologic, with over 30 years’ experience in population screening and testing, has increased COVID-19 testing capacity by leveraging the existing nationwide network of automated machines that have been supporting the cervical screening programmes.
The automated Panther system runs Hologic’s CE marked COVID-19 test (Aptima SARS-CoV-2 assay), which detects the presence of the virus and can be produced in high quantities. There are nearly 100 of these platforms already installed in 50 labs across the UK, which are and widely used for other national screening programmes, such as cervical health. Each Panther system can process up to 1,000 Coronavirus tests in 24 hours and provide initial results in approximately three and a half hours.
Jan Verstreken, regional president EMEA & Canada, Hologic, said: “There is widespread recognition that the ability to run large scale COVID-19 testing programmes is central to mitigating the health and economic impact of lockdown and reducing the risk of a second wave of infection. Our experience in molecular technology and in delivering significant testing capacity makes us well placed to help support this continuing public health challenge.
To increase the supply of this COVID-19 test and strengthen the UK’s diagnostic infrastructure, Hologic has rapidly expanded its Manchester manufacturing facility to increase production capacity. The site will supply the UK and the rest of Europe. This also expands the company’s capacity to support future testing needs, allowing it to broaden its portfolio of assays across women’s health and infectious diseases.
Adrian Smith, UK general manager, Hologic, said: “Our investment in our Manchester manufacturing facilities enables us to support significantly increased testing capability in the UK but has also resulted in more jobs during a time of uncertainty. Scaling our production this quickly has not been easy and we’re proud of our teams and partners across the region and globe for their commitment to our purpose. By working together and with public bodies, we are all contributing to countries safely returning to the new normal.”
Hologic delivers significant testing capacity to vital national cervical and breast cancer screening programmes. The Panther’s sophisticated automation system allows COVID-19 tests to run simultaneously with sexual health, cervical health and virology tests, enabling labs to utilise all capacity as vital cancer screening and diagnostic testing resumes and the drive towards alleviating the screening backlog continues.