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Inside Britain’s flagship Covid lab that no one knows what to do with

It was hailed as a cutting-edge laboratory that would play a key role in response to Covid-19 and future epidemics, carrying out 300,000 tests a day.

Announcing the project in November 2020, then-health secretary Matt Hancock said the project “confirms the UK as a world leader in diagnostics”.

But less than 18 months later, the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory – named in honour of the renowned British scientist – has been plagued by failure while costing almost twice as much as its initial £588m budget, The Independent understands.

Instead of being at the forefront of the fight against Covid, the project opened six months late, facing a string of issues with equipment, staff and construction, with barely 20% of its touted capacity being reached.

Now, as the government winds down its “lighthouse” testing labs as part of the plan to “live with Covid”, leaving the Leamington Spa facility as the last lab standing, there are questions about the future of the site – and whether it would be able to cope with the nation’s testing needs alone if another deadly wave of Covid were to emerge.

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Source: The Independent, 28 April 2022


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