Students spend the summer helping to pack testing kits at science park

PUBLISHED: 09:43 17 August 2020 | UPDATED: 15:02 17 August 2020

Anna Borg, Morgan Tritton, Izzy Poles and Emily Hanlon from Saffron Walden help to pack the Covid-19 tests at DWR at Chesterford Research Park. Picture: Morgan Tritton

Anna Borg, Morgan Tritton, Izzy Poles and Emily Hanlon from Saffron Walden help to pack the Covid-19 tests at DWR at Chesterford Research Park. Picture: Morgan Tritton

Morgan Tritton

Students from Saffron Walden County High School are using their summer holiday to help pack Covid-19 test kits on an Uttlesford science park.

Image of SAMBA II testing machinesImage of SAMBA II testing machines

Diagnostics for the Real World at Chesterford Research Park has seen hugedemand for both the SAMBA II machines and the accompanying test kits, which have been rolled out across the NHS.

Li Peng, Operations Director at DRW, said they are receiving thousands of test kit orders on an almost daily basis.

“Having additional help from the students has been invaluable – it’s labour intensive work but the atmosphere is great, and everyone is really pleased to be part of the initiative.

“Being able to set up a packing and storage area at Chesterford Research Park, within a couple of minutes’ walk of our labs in the Park’s Science Village has been fantastic.”

Image of SAMBA II testing machinesImage of SAMBA II testing machines

Students have been given training and are working to assemble and pack the test kits ready for dispatch.

Morgan Tritton, 18, from Saffron Walden, said: “We have to wear full PPE, gowns, hairnets. It’s quite a nice environment.”

Helen Cox, retiring Head of Sixth Form, said: “It has been really good for them - they have been shut in, they have not taken their exams. They are able to pick up some paid work and do something really good.”

DWR’s 90 minute test for coronavirus was hailed a “game changer” in April and was validated by Public Health England.

After swabs and samples are taken they are loaded into the machine, and the rest of the process is fully automated.

DWR found they needed additional space to store the kit components and pack the kits ready for dispatch. Communal space within The Nucleus, the central facilities hub at the Park, that was not being used because of lockdown was set up as an assembly and packing area.

Li said they were grateful to Park Manager Katherine Maguire and her team for helping with the space.

DWR is relocating its reagent manufacturing and production facilities and will be using contract manufacturer, Design Packaging Group, from September when it is expected that production will need to increase to around 10,000 kits per week.


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