We began in spring of 2020, during the first UK national Covid lockdown. The WHO was telling the world to "Test, test, test" and Matt Hancock was urging British labs to scale up massively for PCR testing. We thought we could help testing grow faster if we helped labs to exchange information, to buy and sell PCR testing to each other, and to find clients - organisations who needed to screen people for Covid. Labs came from different sectors; forensics, environmental, oncological etc - they hadn't previously had much to do with each other and we thought that by connecting everyone up, things might work better. We also arranged Labsure, an initiative between leading labs to co-operate to handle potential demand stresses on the testing system.
Our objectives have been:
1. To help increase the scale, reliability & affordability of lab testing. Originally Covid-19 PCR and now, increasingly, genomic testing for other diseases.
2. To charge commercial labs for our services and donate fees to charity.
We support ZSL because of their work on zoonosis. SARS-CoV-2 is believed to have jumped from another species and understanding that process better should help prevent it happening again. We support Alzheimer's Society because people with dementia suffered horribly in the pandemic; isolated in care homes with no idea why. We've recently started a new charitable fund, TestAID, through which we will continue to support good causes.
Serious illness in the UK from Covid seems to be in retreat. Hopefully the vaccines will work on new variants. Even so, the pandemic has left a deep wound in UK healthcare in the form of a huge clinical backlog. The labs and test service providers that scaled-up to meet the demands of Covid PCR testing and genomic sequencing now have the capacity and experience to offer tests for other diseases, such as cancer. Perhaps that will take some of the pressure off the NHS. If we can help a little with that, we'd like to, which is why we're expanding to cover genomic testing.
- Mike Hudson, 4 March 2022