Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told the public to stop using coronavirus testing kits produced by Randox after safety problems were identified.
The kits are sent to members of the public for home testing as well as care homes and other settings, after which they are delivered back to Randox so swabs can be analysed.
The government has yet to share details of the problem, although there is currently no indication that the kits have caused harm.
On Thursday Mr Hancock told MPs: ‘We’ve identified some swabs that are not up to the usual high standard that we expect, and we’ll be carrying out further testing of this batch as a precautionary measure.
‘And while we investigate further, we’re requesting that the use of these Randox swab test kits is paused in all settings until further notice.
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‘Clinical advice is that there is no evidence of any harm, the test results are not affected.’
The Department of Health and Social Care referred to a statement issued yesterday saying: ‘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.
‘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.
‘This request only applies to unused Randox test kits, which are clearly marked with that name. Used Randox test kits can still be collected for processing as normal.
The department added that all other kits from NHS Test and Trace can continue to be used for testing.
The government reportedly awarded Randox a £133 million contract to start making the kits for England, Wales and Northern Ireland without taking bids from other companies.
Its tests are being used along with those produced by the UK-wide Lighthouse Labs Network, created in partnership by the government, Medicines Discovery Catapult, UK Biocentre and the University of Glasgow.
Randox said in a statement: ‘As an immediate precautionary measure we have temporarily suspended distribution of home sample collection kits using one particular batch / supplier of swabs.
‘This is a temporary measure and does not apply to our private business which uses a different supplier of swabs.
‘Test results from Randox kits are not affected.’
Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health minister, tweeted on Thursday: ‘Ministers overstated testing figures by 200,000 & now home testing kits don’t meet safety standards with use of all Randox test kits paused.
‘Test & Trace costs £10 billion & increasingly chaotic with private firm after private firm failing to deliver.’
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