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UK Samples Sent Away for Testing

The UK has sent about 50,000 samples to the US for coronavirus testing, the Telegraph reports.

It notes that the UK has struggled to meet its goal of conducting 100,000 tests per day and that these tests were sent to the US after issues cropped up in UK laboratories. A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson tells the Guardian that a technical problem arose with its automation process, leading to a backlog of tests. 

To boost its capacity to process suspected COVID-19 samples, the UK set up the new Lighthouse Labs network, the Guardian adds. It notes that this network largely processes samples from essential workers and some samples from drive-through sites, while Public Health England and NHS labs typically test patient samples and NHS staff. 

A spokesperson tells the Telegraph that the network had contingency plans in place in case of such issues, including sending samples to partner labs abroad, and that the results would be validated in a UK lab. The Telegraph reports that the samples are being run at a US university.

The University of Leeds' Nicola Stonehouse tells the Guardian that she finds it perplexing that the samples had to be sent to the US, rather than to a different Lighthouse Lab in the UK.