Inside the Taunton laboratory testing for Covid-19

A laboratory in Somerset is part of the national effort to provide Covid-19 testing for the NHS.

The lab has been ramping up its coronavirus testing since March and is now working around the clock to try and meet demand.

It is what is known as a Category 3 facility, in the heart of Taunton, which is required when processing potentially infectious samples.

New equipment has been brought in to process coronavirus tests. Credit: SYNLAB

The site provides a regional services for NHS patients and staff across Somerset, but also undertakes COVID-19 testing for the NHS elsewhere in the UK.

Southwest Pathology Services has a longstanding relationship between SYNLAB in Taunton and Yeovil Hospital and Somerset NHS Foundation Trusts.

And the ambition is to increase capacity to offer 1,100 tests a day over the coming month [May].

Techicians have been trained at speed to test for covid-19. Credit: SYNLAB

Technicians inside the laboratory readily acknowledge that coronavirus has changed the way they work.

Supplies, resources and specialist people have been moved in to support the NHS fight, such as veterinary technicians from Exeter.

Shabana Hussain says coronavirus has changed the way the lab works. Credit: SYNLAB
Sarah Harrison is amazed at Credit: SYNLAB
1,100 Covid-19 tests should be processed here within the next month. Credit: SYNLAB

The laboratory is simultaneously helping the international effort to find a reliable antibody test that can be used here in the UK.

This is the much-needed test to determine who has - or hasn’t - had the virus.

Antibody tests are available, but as yet none perform reliably to a standard that makes them of clinical use in the current pandemic.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know