A SCOTS based firm is getting £375m from the UK government as it seeks to ramp up production of Covid-19 tests to encourage people without symptoms to get themselves checked for the virus.

Millions of rapid Covid-19 tests are to be manufactured and two firms have signed deals with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to make lateral flow tests.

Omega Diagnostics, based in Alva, Clackmannanshire, is part of the UK Rapid Test Consortium, which was set up to develop and manufacture Covid-19 antibody tests as part of the government’s national testing strategy.

About 200 jobs are expected to be created in Clackmannanshire through the development.

The company said the £374m figure represented the “maximum of the potential value of the contract,” and that the size of orders could be lower.

DHSC said that it has agreed contracts with Omega Diagnostics, headquartered in Alva in Scotland, and Global Access Diagnostics, based in Thurleigh, Bedfordshire, to provide manufacturing capacity for up to 200 million tests – and creating around 470 jobs.


The firms will be able to make two million rapid turnaround tests every week by the end of May, officials said.

It comes as the Government is encouraging more and more people to take tests when they do not have symptoms.

It is hoped that by finding cases among people who do not have symptoms, it will help stem the spread of the virus.


It said that by the end of May, the companies will have the capacity to produce approximately two million tests every week.

Omega provides manufacturing capacity to Mologic, a UK company that described itself as “a leading developer of lateral flow and rapid diagnostic technologies, products and services.” Omega said production of Covid-19 tests would only begin once the government had provided confirmation that Mologic’s test “has passed the necessary performance evaluation.”

The government has already invested more than £1.5bn in lateral flow tests, which typically provide results within 30 minutes but are accused by some experts of struggling to detect lower levels of infection.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Rapid lateral flow tests are essential to help us identify cases of the virus we otherwise wouldn’t find and preventing the virus spreading in our workplaces and communities.

“These tests will help keep businesses open, our children return to school, people to visit their loved ones in care homes safely.

“British innovation is at the forefront of our response to this pandemic and this partnership with two Great British firms will help us to build back better by tapping into the UK’s domestic talent, ingenuity and industry.”

Health minister Lord Bethell, added: “The UK continues to lead the way in medical diagnostics, and we are working with companies such as Omega and Global Access Diagnostics to build on our expertise in the field.

“The whole industry has come together to respond to Covid-19 and get us back to the people and things we love, helping us stop the spread of the virus now while strengthening our resilience for the future.”

In December, Omega Diagnostics posted a £1.8 million loss for the six months to the end of September.

The increase in its pre-tax deficit from £331,000 in the same period a year earlier had been anticipated, with the pandemic hitting sales within the food intolerance business.

News on its involvement in various Covid test development partnerships has driven Omega’s share price throughout the year. 

Headcount at its headquarters based at the Hilfoots Business Village has now reached 122 people, up from 60 in May, with construction on a £1m manufacturing expansion.

That was to take capacity from 500,000 to two million tests per week by April, with a further 70 to 80 people expected to be hired in the coming months.

That woujl allow Omega to produce a quarter of the first one million tests ordered earlier this year by the UK Government, and at least that percentage amount from total orders placed over the term of the Government supply agreement.