A LOCAL councillor has joined the call for the government to “force corporations like (Crumlin based) Randox to hand over the testing kits, for use in protecting our health.”
Causeway Coast and Glens Councillor Angela Mulholland endorsed the call as it emerged that Randox have run out of Covid 19 Home Testing Kits, that their website states can be purchased for £120.
Their website states: “Due to unprecedented pressure on healthcare supply chains, delivery of a number of key components in our COVID-19 HOME TESTING KIT has been delayed.
"As such, our CORONAVIRUS COVID 19 HOME TESTING KIT is temporarily sold out. We will not be processing any new orders until week commencing 30thMarch 2020.”
Meanwhile an online petition has been started, gaining over 7000 signatures in three days, demanding that:
“Randox release Covid-19 tests to the NHS without charge so that they can offer more testing to staff on the front-line and patients with severe symptoms.”
Cllr Mulholland has also called upon people: to " call Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill today and demand Randox is brought under government control to help stop the spread of Covid19.
“People in Northern Ireland are rising to the huge challenge facing our communities.
“Now is the time for us to put pressure on to force powerful corporations like Randox to hand over the testing kits, for use in protecting our health!"
“The Northern Ireland Executive should act immediately to have Randox taken under government control. If you are asked to put your concerns in writing, please do that also!"
Cllr Mulholland went on, “This is not a political point scoring exercise, this is an attempt to get more tests available to more people who may have symptoms so as to help alleviate fears and get those who are OK back out into the community to help others.
“I and my son are currently in isolation now for up to 14 days so I can speak from our own situation how these tests would be very helpful to determine if we have it or not.”
The Chronicle put the issues raised to Randox, with a spokesperson replying:
“Randox fully understand the critical nature of COVID-19 testing in containing the virus and reducing the human impact of this pandemic.
“We also understand that the most effective way to deal with such matters, is to support government initiatives.
“We would like to assure the public that we continue to engage with government, and are working diligently to ramp up testing capabilities in the UK.”
Last week The Chronicle reported how Randox did not deny speculation that they had been asked by the UK government to set up a designated testing site for COVID 19.
Based in Crumlin, Co Antrim, Randox Laboratories, an international clinical diagnostic solutions company, has developed a test for COVID 19, currently in use in China and other pandemic
Demand has soared since the testing kit was launched last month, with the firm said to be ramping up production in an effort to meet projected demand.
The Irish Times reported on Saturday March 14 that public health officials in the HSE (Republic's Health Service) and NHS are in talks with Co Antrim-based Randox about using the test to help expand and speed up the diagnosis of Covid-19 cases across the UK and Ireland.
The report stated: “It is understood that neither the HSE or the NHS has yet agreed terms with Randox, but the company is hoping to collaborate with both national health agencies on the pandemic.”
The Randox website states: “Randox has developed a rapid test for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2), the new strain of coronavirus.
“The only test in the world that can identify the lethal strain and differentiate between other non-lethal variants with the same symptoms.
“The new test utilises Randox Biochip Technology, reporting 540 results in less than 5 hours on the Randox Evidence Investigator, a semi-automated analyser that is capable of processing 54 patient samples simultaneously.”