Coronavirus: Illness may surge once governments lift restrictions says lab boss

A medical tester at workA medical tester at work
A medical tester at work
A boss of a Crumlin-based laboratory company has said there is a risk the Covid-19 virus could rebound more “ferociously” than before once countries ease restrictions on their populations.

Mark Campbell, senior manager at test kit maker Randox (which has about 900 staff in Northern Ireland), made the remarks as the firm is in discussions with the UK government about possible supply of its virus test.

He said their tests are currently exported to China and Japan, and are available to private firms in the UK, at a cost of roughly £120 each.

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Each test contains 10 different checks, including a kind of double-test for Covid-19, plus other respiratory illnesses.

They can give results in about four to five hours (the Belfast trust says its own tests currently take five hours).

He said the tests are “keenly priced” and stressed the firm is not “seeking to profiteer” from the crisis.

Asked if governments have reacted swiftly enough to the pandemic, he said it was hard for him to judge but added: “There’s a large debate about is it best to shut everything down radically?

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“Or is it better to have almost a managed spread within the population, which allows the health service to control it in an effective way?

“And what we don’t know yet is those nations who did a managed shutdown, when they open up again, is the thing just going to spread again ferociously, maybe worse than it would’ve done the first time, because they haven’t gotten any immunity?

“We won’t know the answers to these questions really until we’d come out the other side and we can look back.

“It’s far too early to be critical about government responses, [when they are] are really operating with the best scientific advice they have.”