Coronavirus tests used by the NHS may be unsafe and have been halted, the government has announced.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary is to make a statement in the House of Commons on Thursday afternoon about the problems with coronavirus kits, which could hamper widespread testing.
The Department of Health said that the NHS Test and Trace service had been notified that some test kits produced by Randox Laboratories may not meet required safety standards.
“As a precautionary measure and while we investigate further, NHS Test and Trace are requesting that all settings pause the use of Randox test kits with immediate effect and until further notice,” a government statement said.
“The risk to safety is low and test results from Randox kits are not affected.
“We will be supporting all testing settings to receive replacement kits as soon as possible.”
Randox was paid to carry out tests, both posted to individuals at home and administered at testing centres, as part of Mr Hancock’s pledge to reach the target of 100,000 tests a day.
The company, based in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, supplies tests to more than 40 countries and won the second biggest contract for testing in the UK, worth £133 million. Only Hologic won a bigger contract worth £151 million.
However the government was criticised at the time after it emerged that Tory MP Owen Patterson receives £100,000 a year from Randox to act as a consultant.
Randox’s test results are available in less than hours as the tests and its analysers are capable of processing 54 patient samples simultaneously.