Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

17.25 10 Apr 2020


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The HSE has secured a supply of reagents for up to 900,000 COVID-19 tests.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and health officials have previously said the global shortage of reagents - the chemicals needed for testing - was the main reason behind delays and backlogs in coronavirus testing here.

However, the HSE and National Virus Reference Laboratory at UCD now say they've reached an agreement with Genomics Medicine Ireland Limited to secure a large supply of the required reagent.

The GMI lab at Cherrywood in Dublin is set to operate seven days a week to formulate the reagents, with the necessary components for 200,000 tests already received by the company.

Health officials say it will allow the lab at UCD to perform up to 10,000 tests per day over the coming weeks.

They say the new supply they have sourced will support a more rapid analysis of samples and a quicker turn-around of test results to clinicians.

Dr Cillian De Gascun, director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory, said: “GMI’s rapid response in producing reagents for NVRL will be pivotal in our understanding of the outbreak and help in deciding when we can begin to lift current movement restrictions”.

Testing delays

Dr De Gascun earlier this week said authorities were working to build capacity to carry out 15,000 tests in Ireland daily in a month's time.

Figures released this week showed that more than 42,000 tests have been carried out in Ireland to date.

However, there have been increasing calls in recent days for health authorities to confirm the number of people waiting for a test or test results.

Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty today he has written to the Taoiseach asking for the numbers to be released.

Deputy Doherty said in a statement: "Everybody knows that there is a significant backlog.

"That is to be expected, but there is a need to be honest about the extent of the situation because testing is such a crucial part of trying to combat this virus."

Main image: File photo. Picture by: USA TODAY Network/SIPA USA/PA Images

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