BIVDA Press Release - BIVDA seeks to clarify incorrect claims made by media outlets and the PM regarding the UK's pre-pandemic lateral flow device manufacturing capability
Recent statements relating to the lack of ability for the UK to manufacture lateral flow test devices have included information which has been misleading and distorted the facts. As the trade association representing nearly 200 organisations, which includes both British and global diagnostic companies, BIVDA would like to clarify these facts.
The UK Diagnostics Industry has suffered decades of underinvestment by public sector innovation funders, and poor adoption of its new products by the NHS due to fragmented procurement and treatment strategies. The UK industry actually pioneered the global development and manufacture of lateral flow technologies. The many UK diagnostics manufacturers of advanced lateral flow tests have been driven to focus on export, both to other first world markets and for use in diagnosing disease in the developing world, where access to laboratory testing is difficult.
The unprecedented and welcome investment provided by the Government for increasing manufacturing capacity (and the raw material supplies required for this) during the pandemic should have been an opportunity to address a number of issues. Not only would this investment helped tackle Covid-19 head on but it would have ensured that the IVD industry, which responded immediately to the government’s call to action, was able to have a sustained future. Prepared for any future pandemic, allowing the British public to benefit from UK-based technologies and our Treasury to benefit from the jobs that would have been created in the diagnostics sector.
To be clear, procurement decisions were taken to source lateral flow tests from inside and outside of the UK and only to use the enhanced manufacturing capacity for UK tests that were bought by NHS Test & Trace. This once in a generation opportunity has not been fully realised and has instead damaged parts of the UK-based industry to a point of crisis and soured the relationships between an industry who instinctively stood up to be counted, and their government.