Testing centres and scientific partnerships: how Norwich is fighting coronavirus

A drive-through testing centre at Norwich Research Park is one measure scientists and NHS staff are taking in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. 

Scientists from UEA have joined staff at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) as well as volunteers from each research organisation at Norwich Research Park to work at isolating and detecting viral RNA, which is one step in testing NHS workers for the virus. By collecting RNA scientists will be able to amplify samples to create a valid testing system.

UEA say the partnership could lead to testing capacity increasing by seven-fold and providing thousands as opposed to hundreds of tests each day. Even with this increase in mass testing they hope to continue providing results within 24 hours. Many scientists working at the research park already have high levels of expertise in testing techniques, meaning they will be able to start work without extensive training.

Key NHS staff are eligible for a test if they or someone in their household develops symptoms of COVID-19. These key staff include critical care workers, paramedics, emergency department staff, and primary care staff.

UEA Vice Chancellor Prof David Richardson said: “This is a wonderful demonstration of the collaborative spirit of the Norwich Research Park, bringing its research strength together to help tackle this national emergency, and we are very proud to be working in partnership with our colleagues on something that could have a profound local impact at this critical time.”

Sam Higginson, Chief Executive at NNUH, said: “Quick and reliable testing is an essential part of the national effort to protect the NHS and save lives.

“We are starting to test key clinical staff for COVID-19 in line with national guidelines. The expectation is that staff in key clinical roles will be tested to support our staffing through the pandemic.”

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Chris Matthews

January 2021
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