Professor Sir Harry Burns, who served as chief medical officer for Scotland from 2005 to 2014, said the failure to quickly scale up the volume of coronavirus testing was primarily down to the lack of a domestic pharmaceutical supply chain and lab capacity.
By the end of last week, there were only around 20,000 tests for coronavirus taking place every day, against a UK government target of 100,000 by the end of this month. Ministers have blamed the difficulty in securing enough of the necessary chemical reagents amid a global spike in demand triggered by the crisis.
In Germany, which is home to global pharmaceutical and chemical giants including Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim and BASF, as many as 100,000 tests are already being carried out every day, allowing coronavirus hotspots to be identified more quickly. The country has so far posted one of the lowest trajectories for the curve of virus deaths, with a toll on Friday of 2,373.
...Asked what the key factor limiting testing capacity in the UK is, Burns pointed to “the decline in the chemicals industry, which in the 50s and 60s, the 70s and 80s even, was an important part of the British economy...
...He highlighted the closure of a major chemicals industry hub in Paisley, which saw hundreds of skilled chemicals jobs leave the area. “That whole area, which used to be a huge campus, was flattened and it’s now private housing.”I'm pretty skeptical about this, but it's an interesting idea, and it's good that people recognize that there is a tie-in between the core chemicals industry and advanced pharma/biotech. (...something tells me that, per capita, the size of the UK and the German chemical industries aren't really that different? I dunno.)