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Two years since the launch of the first SARS-CoV-2 PCR test

In the two years since it launched the world's first commercially available COVID-19 PCR test, Roche Diagnostics UK and Ireland has distributed 10 million tests from its base in West Sussex.

Scientists at Roche Diagnostics were among the first to analyse the genetic sequence of the virus and on 13 March 2020 the test for SARS-CoV-2 was made available in markets accepting the CE mark, including the UK. The test was then rolled out to the frontline NHS in just three weeks at unprecedented pace. Roche Diagnostics has since developed more than 20 diagnostic tests for COVID-19 to support the response to the pandemic. 

Roche Diagnostics UK, headquartered in Burgess Hill, has been at the centre of the UK's pandemic response since March 2020. The team worked closely with the NHS, Public Health England and UK Government to coordinate the distribution of COVID-19 PCR tests to NHS laboratories throughout the UK, as well as the movement and installation of the testing platforms on which they are run. 

Geoff Twist, Managing Director of Roche Diagnostics UK and Ireland, said: “As a country, we have sacrificed so much these past two years – but we have also seen its very best, from the dedication of our NHS workers and the resilience of our communities, to the remarkable innovation of our scientists.  

               “I’m so proud of the part Roche Diagnostics played in the pandemic response and our teams who worked day and night to support the NHS and provide the country with vital COVID-19 tests in record time. 

               “But our resolve and commitment doesn’t end here. The NHS has another huge mountain to climb in the months and years ahead and the untapped potential of diagnostics can play a significant role in helping to tackle the unprecedented waiting lists created by the pandemic and future challenges.”  

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