05th May 2020

EKF working to help fight against COVID-19

The chief executive of EKF Diagnostics talks about how the healthcare manufacturing business is helping the fight against Covid-19 by supplying an NHS laboratory testing service provider with one of the “safest forms of sample collection and transportation in the world” in a move which is creating jobs.

Penarth-based EKF contract manufactures PrimeStore MTM, a sample collection device which is owned and created by Longhorn Vaccines and Diagnostics.

Source BioScience is providing businesses with Covid-19 testing services of their staff and being able to use PrimeStore MTM removes the cold chain transportation that is necessary for many other transport media.

The device, which was already operational before the Covid-19 pandemic, deactivates any virus in the sample while also releasing the DNA and RNA for analysis. The RNA is then kept stable for up to four weeks.

EKF chief executive Julian Baines said as the company was doing “millions of tubes in the States” he agreed a deal with Longhorn to set up a manufacturing facility in Penarth.

“The reason we wanted to bring the device into the UK is because I believe it is one of the safest forms of sample collection and transportation in the world,” said Baines.

He added: “If a batch leaks in transit or anything like that there is no chance of getting Covid. That’s why it has been so popular in the US.”

EKF is establishing a UK production line in South Wales for the assembly of the collection kits and Baines said social distancing was being taken “incredibly seriously”.

“We are employing our first team of ten temporary staff who may become full-time and if we want to do two runs that will rise to 20 and it will continue to grow like that.”

The Penarth site is expected to produce 12,500 sample collection tubes a day once normal production is established, with smaller early batch volumes expected to be delivered to Source BioScience next month.

Baines said EKF will continue to ramp up its production capacity in the UK and in Europe to serve the demand, as testing moves closer to reaching the UK Government’s target of 100,000 tests a day.