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Scottish vet labs to support NHS with Covid-19 testing

Scottish vet labs to support NHS with Covid-19 testing

Moredun Research Institute and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) are working together to support the NHS by providing extra capacity for vital testing of samples within their laboratory facilities at Pentlands Science Park in Midlothian.

The collaborative team will be using Moredun’s specialist high-containment facilities, for working with high hazard group pathogens to enable the safe handling of samples for SARS-Cov-2 testing combined with SRUC veterinary labs’ capability to deliver high throughput PCR testing.

The team, who would normally be working on delivering diagnostics to support livestock health and welfare, are re-purposing laboratory space and equipment to help NHS colleagues by providing capacity for around 1000 tests a day.

Professor Julie Fitzpatrick, CEO of the Moredun Group, said: “Our charities, owned and governed by farmers, and funded mainly by the Scottish Government, have researched many infectious diseases of livestock over the years. Together with our collaborators at SRUC, we have combined facilities and skills to extend capacity of Covid-19 during the ‘test and protect’ phase of the pandemic. We have developed an excellent working relationship with colleagues in the NHS who have worked very hard, along with our own staff to help make this happen. We are very proud of all the staff involved in stepping up to help with the national effort to tackle Covid-19”.

Professor Wayne Powell, Principal and Chief Executive of SRUC, said:  “We are delighted to join forces with Moredun to bring our collective expertise and diagnostics capacity to support NHS Scotland. This is a ‘team Scotland’ approach and demonstrates our willingness to share facilities, innovate and adapt our working practices to deliver a public good in the national interest.”

The work that will be conducted by the new Moredun-SRUC node will be the test for the virus itself, the molecular (swab) test, which indicates who has active virus infection. The combined Moredun-SRUC Veterinary Services team have been working closely with colleagues at NHS Lothian over the last few weeks to ensure that the testing will be conducted to NHS diagnostic standards, fully integrated into NHS systems with training and support provided by NHS clinical staff.

Dr Ingolfur Johannessen, Director of NHS Lothian Laboratory Medicine and Clinical Lead for the Scottish National Laboratory Medicine Programme said, “We are delighted to work with the Moredun Research Institute and SRUC in a collaborative partnership approach to Covid-19 virus PCR testing, which builds on a template that NHS Scotland has created for such novel approaches in its efforts to expand national testing capacity and ensure resilience. The partnership with Moredun and SRUC expands that approach even further, supporting both NHS Lothian’s test requirements as well as overall national test capacity”.

The Moredun-SRUC testing node is the first major veterinary centre working to support NHS labs to help with Covid-19 testing in the UK and is an excellent example of a One Health approach in action. The team have also developed working methods to ensure that their vital work to conduct diagnostic work in support of veterinary surveillance will continue.

Sheila Voas, Chief Veterinary Officer Scotland said, “I am delighted to see this example of One Health in action. This combined effort between the world class team at Moredun and SRUC has shown how vets and medics can work together to support the NHS and combat this pandemic”.

ENDS

 

Notes to editors:

Moredun and SRUC are world-leading organisations involved in promoting the highest standards of health and welfare of livestock through prevention and control of infectious disease. Together they support the work of the Scottish Government delivering disease surveillance and diagnostics, and support statutory schemes such as the current eradication of Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD). Collectively the two organisations working together currently deliver molecular surveillance for endemic and emerging livestock diseases through the work of the Moredun Virus Surveillance Unit and the SRUC veterinary laboratories.

Moredun Research Institute: conducts internationally recognised research on the infectious diseases of livestock to help find solutions for major challenges to modern farming such as the consequences of a changing climate; ensuring safe and sustainable food and water supplies conserving biodiversity and finding solutions to infectious diseases. Today, many of the veterinary medicines and vaccines that are routinely used on farm have either been researched, developed or tested at Moredun. More information about the work of Moredun Research Institute can be found at www.moredun.ac.uk

SRUC exists to deliver comprehensive skills, education and business support for Scotland’s land based industries formed on world class and sector leading research, education and consultancy. www.sruc.ac.uk

 

For further information please contact:

Lee Innes                                                                                                           Tom Maxwell

Director of Communication                                                                                Communications Manager

Moredun Research Institute                                                                               SRUC                                 

Tel: 07818 564954                                                                                              Tel: 07834 722701

E: lee.innes@moredun.ac.uk                                                                              E: Tom.Maxwell@sruc.ac.uk