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Testing kits made by NI firms not ordered by health bosses

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One of the Covid-19 testing kits

One of the Covid-19 testing kits

One of the Covid-19 testing kits

At least two companies in Northern Ireland have been distributing coronavirus testing kits around the world - but have had no orders from the Department of Health here, it has emerged.

Crumlin-based Randox Laboratories and Biopanda Reagents in Belfast have both developed quick and cost-effective testing kits for the virus.

It comes after the Health Minister, Robin Swann, said that there is not the capacity to carry out mass testing in Northern Ireland.

In response to the pandemic, Biopanda Reagents has developed its Covid-19 Rapid Test, which detects the virus through identifying antibodies.

The results are ready in 10 minutes.

Biopanda sales manager Philip McKee said that there has been a "huge demand" for the tests, however there have been no orders from the NHS.

"We're supplying to clinics, doctors' surgeries, anywhere that would have a healthcare professional that can perform such tests," he told Wired magazine.

Mr McKee said the firm has had to hire extra staff to help with packing and dispatching the tests, with orders coming in from around the globe.

Crumlin-based Randox Laboratories has also developed a "multiplex viral respiratory infection array" which tests for Covid-19 and nine other infections simultaneously.

Randox said that the test is capable of processing 324 patient samples in just eight hours.

It is distributing the tests to more than 40 countries worldwide, but said it has not received a request for tests from the Department of Health.

A Randox spokesperson said that its test can also identify other infections in patients who have similar symptoms to coronavirus.

"Whilst the Department of Health has not yet requested any tests for use, we are mindful of the pressures they are under and are appreciative that they will review all viable options," a spokesperson said.

"Randox always takes care to engage on a cost-effectiveness basis and has the capacity to enhance testing within Northern Ireland's NHS to conduct Covid-19 testing at an extremely competitive price."

The Department of Health has been contacted for a comment.

Belfast Telegraph