An Aberdeen-based healthcare business is among the first in the world to get its hands on the latest in Covid-19 testing technology from life sciences firm LumiraDx.
TAC Healthcare Group, trading as the Aberdeen Clinic, recently took delivery of 30 rapid testing “lab-in-a-box” kits, said to be able to detect Covid-19 in someone from a nasal swab in just 12 minutes.
TAC is now carrying out around 4,000 tests every week, mainly on oil and gas workers but also on people working in other sectors. Professional sportspeople being tested by the firm include players from Aberdeen Football Club.
The firm said its new LumiraDx technology allowed offshore workers could go in for a test from 5.45am and be back at the heliport, armed with their results, that same morning.
“Since 2018 we have been focused on bringing together transformational healthcare technologies and services, with this latest investment in LumiraDx’s smart diagnostic platform a continuation of that journey,” said clinical director Ken Park.
“One of our ambitions is to relieve some of the pressures facing public- sector healthcare, which has undoubtedly been put under significant additional strain by the pandemic.
“Through ground-breaking technologies like this we are enhancing our existing test capabilities, as well as helping to keep coronavirus out of the North Sea and providing positive results into the national Test and Protect team,” he said.
He added: “In terms of asymptomatic or at-risk testing, we have done more than 48,000 tests to date and shared our data with public health.
“When you are dealing with a new virus like this, that type of information sharing is crucial in building a better understanding of how to respond.”
To accommodate growing demand for its Covid-19 tests – the firm was carrying out 100 a week at the start of the pandemic – TAC recently acquired a larger facility in Dyce.
The building will become home to the company’s growing occupational health team and services, including medical reception cover, biennial medical checks for offshore workers and the provision of duty doctor and oil and gas “topside” cover, as well as health and wellbeing programmes for office-based staff.
Mr Park said: “When the pandemic first hit offshore, operators dropped down to minimum safe manning levels, so there were far less people being tested. We are seeing things starting to get back to normal and have ramped up our testing capability accordingly.
“By offering accurate testing in minutes, we have a greater opportunity to avoid sending potential carriers on to an asset or vessel where, in those types of enclosed spaces, the virus could easily spread and cause the whole operation to shut down.”