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CASE STUDY

Mobilising national high scale
COVID-19 testing

In March 2020, the UK government announced the launch of a national testing effort to support the UK’s fight against coronavirus via the establishment of a network of high-scale testing laboratories, known as “Lighthouse Labs”.

30,000
tests per day performed in the Medicines Discovery Catapult Lighthouse Lab
>1 MILLION
samples processed by July 2020
LARGEST
diagnostic lab project ever established in British history
300K
national testing capacity per day by September 2020
Alderley Park is showcasing the finest diagnostic science available to achieve the mass throughout, fast-process COVID analysis, helping to save lives and protect the NHS. We are enormously grateful for the hard work of the team.
Lord Bethell, Minister for Innovation
Department of Health and Social Care

Creating the Lighthouse Labs Network

Medicines Discovery Catapult co-ordinated the creation of the UK’s Lighthouse Labs network and delivery of one of those labs, based at Alderley Park in Cheshire. The Lighthouse Labs are the biggest diagnostic lab project ever established in British history.

The establishment of the Lighthouse Labs was actively supported by the NHS and Public Health England as well as many other private and public organisations who partnered in this unprecedented effort.

Medicines Discovery Catapult’s own Lighthouse Laboratory was created completely from scratch, repurposing an empty building at Alderley Park and began delivering test results to patients after less than three weeks. >30,000 tests per day are performed in the Medicines Discovery Catapult Lighthouse Lab, making it a critical component of community testing for the UK. In July 2020 Alderley Park lighthouse Lab had processed more than 1 million samples since opening.

A network of four ‘factory-scale’ laboratories employs over 1,000 people. The network is critical to saving lives and protecting the NHS, having progressed from a national testing capacity of only 8,000 samples per day in March 2020 before Lighthouse began, growing to in excess of 120,000 tests per day by June 2020, and over 300,000 per day by September. 

Covid-19 testing facility