50,000 coronavirus tests sent to the US due to lab ‘issues’

Around 50,000 coronavirus test samples had to be sent to the US due to “operational issues” in the UK, it has been revealed.

The samples were flown to the US on chartered flights from Stansted airport, according to a report in The Sunday Telegraph.

The Department of Health said such a move was among the “contingencies” to deal with “problems”.

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A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “The expansion of the UK’s coronavirus testing network has involved setting up an entirely new ‘Lighthouse’ lab network to process test swabs.

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“When problems arise, we have contingencies in place which include creating extra temporary capacity for our labs or sending swabs abroad to partner labs for completion.

“Of course, our partner labs must match our high standards.”

The department said the decision to send the tests abroad had been taken due to operational issues.

It is understood the test results will be validated in the UK before being sent to patients “as quickly as possible”.

Earlier, it was revealed that 96,878 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 9am on Saturday – the seventh consecutive day that the number fell below the government’s 100,000-a-day target.

But deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam blamed “fluctuations”, saying: “We are now really at a high plateau, in the region of 100,000 tests per day.

“There is some fluctuation, and quite frankly I expect there to be some fluctuation on a day-to-day basis.”