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Ulster University Professors Tara Moore and Jim McLaughlin have been appointed to a new Government led Rapid Test Consortium, via local company CIGA Healthcare.

As the UK government starts to review an exit strategy from the current Covid-19 lockdown, testing and in particular accurate community testing is key to decision making at a Government Policy level.

A Memorandum of Understanding for a COVID-19 Consortium between four UK companies, in conjunction with the University of Oxford has been developed to form the UK Rapid Test Consortium (UK-RTC) to jointly develop and manufacture a COVID-19 Point of Care antibody test as part of the Government’s five pillar national testing strategy for COVID-19.

The UK-RTC, which was announced by the UK Government earlier this month, comprises CIGA Healthcare Limited, Omega, Abingdon Health Limited, BBI Solutions Limited and the University of Oxford. The Consortium was formed at the request of the UK Government to support the development and manufacturing scale-up of a COVID-19 lateral flow antibody test (COVID-19 Rapid Test) to determine whether people have developed immunity after contracting the virus with the possibility of being utilised as part of the UK’s Exit Strategy.

The Memorandum of Understanding signed by the companies is for an initial period of six months. The companies will use their combined lateral flow test design and manufacturing expertise to boost the design for potential accelerated scale-up to manufacturing of the test.

Once the COVID-19 Rapid Test reaches design freeze, the specification and standard operating procedures will be shared with each party of the consortium to enable  manufacturing  and/or assembly  to  be  undertaken  at  each  site, including a site here in Northern Ireland.

Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Ulster University commented:

“We are delighted to be involved in this consortium and to support the UK Government’s efforts to combat the Coronavirus pandemic. As a university we have always pioneered research that improves the lives of our communities and societies and addresses global challenges. We are committed to using our knowledge, expertise and resources to fightback against Covid-19.

"Professors Moore and McLaughlin bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to this consortium which will aid the manufacture of important diagnostics in Northern Ireland.”