India Must Stop Misusing Antibiotics in Dairy Sector, According to CSE Report

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India Must Stop Misusing Antibiotics in Dairy Sector, According to CSE Report

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India Must Stop Misusing Antibiotics in Dairy Sector, According to CSE Report

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has raised concerns over whether the milk we consume is safe. Hosting a virtual meeting in July, the CSE discussed the use of antibiotics with the world’s largest producer of milk, India. Over 188 million tonnes of milk was produced by India over the period of 2018-2019 and lead with 22% of global milk production.

A recent assessment by the CSE has found indication of antibiotic abuse in milk producing cattle.

“We have found that antibiotics are extensively misused in the dairy sector; antibiotic residues remain largely untested in milk, an integral part of Indian diets, particularly of children,” said CSE Director General Sunita Narain. “While we continue to struggle against COVID-19, we are staring at another pandemic like situation – that of antibiotic resistance fueled by the way we are producing our food, which has become chemical-intensive.”

Antibiotics such as penicillin, aminoglycosides and fluroquinolones are being ‘indiscriminately’ used by dairy farmers according to the CSE. These antibiotics are among the most important in human health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned as we face growing concerns over an antibiotic resistance, such antibiotics should be preserved.

Despite laws stating that antibiotics should only be prescribed and administered by a registered veterinarian, the CSE said that some farmers are illegally attaining and injecting animals themselves without the supervision of veterinarians.

“Farmers often sell milk while the animal is under treatment, which increases the chances of antibiotic residues in the milk,” explained Amit Khurana, the CSE’s Food Safety and Toxins Programme Director. “While milk sold directly to consumers is not tested, contrary to what one would expect, processed milk sold in packets is also largely unchecked for antibiotic residues.

“This explains why, despite pooling and processing, packed milk samples from several states had antibiotic residues in the FSSAI’s [Food Safety and Standards Authority of India] milk quality survey of 2018.”

However, CSE noted the virtual meeting has encouraged positive signs of action in the diary industry in India.

“The issues highlighted by the CSE assessment have been well recognised by the experts and stakeholders. These experts have also recommended several measures for minimising antibiotic misuse in the Indian dairy sector.”

In order to minimise the threat of antibiotic resistance, the CSE have recommended “preventative measures” such as;

  • Routine observation of drugs residues in milk
  • Modifying the existing standards for antibiotic residues in milk
  • Limiting misuse of essential antibiotics such as penicillin

Such measures, Khurana noted, are showing some success. “Information shared by various organisations, agencies and experts suggest that ethno-veterinary medicines, better management of sub-clinical mastitis, and good farm management are contributing towards reducing antibiotic misuse.”

“India is now talking about antibiotic resistance in the one-health perspective,” noted Narain. “There is a shared concern, and all voices are now together in expressing that concern.” As such he believes further (and necessary) action will be taken.

“We must ramp up surveillance and testing, put a complete stop to the use of critically important antibiotics and penalise their use,” he added, “and work with farmers and the agriculture-dairy sectors to innovate on solutions.”

Randox Food Diagnostics

Randox Food Diagnostics recognise the pressure the dairy industry is under to mass produce high quality products whilst complying with regulations and have developed the solution. A comprehensive range of easy to use, accurate milk analysis methods for the qualitative and quantitative detection of contaminants in milk.

With 6 Biochip arrays available including the revolutionary InfiniPlex for Milk, Randox Food provide the highest quality testing platforms for the screening of antimicrobials and are the only commercial supplier of a multiplexing anthelmintics array in milk.

Biochip Array Technology saves time and money whilst enabling users to get a deeper insight into milk quality and ensure a safe supply chain.

Contact us at info@randoxfooddiagnostics.com, or visit https://www.randoxfood.com/milk-analysis/ to find out more about our milk testing solutions.

 

 

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U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Resurge to Record During the Pandemic

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22 October 2020: U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Resurge to Record During the Pandemic

Drug overdose deaths in the USA rose to a record high in 2019, after falling for the first time for 25 years in 2018. Almost 72,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2019 according to the preliminary data that was released by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this year.

Though there is currently no hard data available, there is speculation that the pandemic is complicating and worsening the surge, as 2020 looks to be even more devastating than 2019. Data collected by The New York Times saw for the first half of 2020 drug overdose deaths have risen by an average of 13 percent across America compared to last year. If this trend continues into the rest of the year, it will be the sharpest rise in annual drug deaths since 2016, when fentanyl made its way into US drug trafficking and street supply.

Increased funding toward addiction treatment, prevision and recovery services did shows signs of improving overdose deaths. Though the government has made this positive headway in the last few years in how they tackle the drug epidemic in America, this progress could be threatened by the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier in the month, Brett Giroir, the administration’s assistant secretary for health, said in a statement, “We understand that there is an extraordinary amount of work to do, especially now as we are also dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic that could markedly affect our nation’s mental health and risk of substance use.”

Several public health experts said conditions created by the pandemic could hurt the nation’s fragile progress in fighting the surge of drug deaths but noted that the overdose rate was on its way back up well before the virus arrived. “Covid just makes it a bit worse,” said Dr. Dan Ciccarone, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who studies the opioid epidemic. “It’s a small wave riding on top of a tsunami that continues to devastate.”

Although official statistics on 2020 overdose deaths won’t be available for a long time, there is local evidence showing drug related deaths are rising into 2020.

Increase in Drug related deaths from 2019 through the first portion of 2020

Though a lot of this data precedes the coronavirus pandemic, researchers believe there are several reasons why the virus could worsen the trend.

When state lockdowns first began in March, Dr. Anna Lembke, a clinician with Stanford’s Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic, noticed many of her patients showing signs of improving. “Many patients described a kind of peacefulness without the constant hubbub of modern life and the constant triggers they’re exposed to,” she said.

However, in response to the virus, the US government has done something unheard-of: it relaxed rules and regulations around prescribing methadone and buprenorphine, two commonly prescribed opioid addiction treatments. Patients no longer needed to attend daily in person appointments to receive their methadone prescriptions and could instead be given 4 weeks’ worth at a time. Doctors no longer need to meet in person to prescribe buprenorphine.

This was initially celebrated as a positive change, however as the pandemic has progressed and people have remained isolated, lockdown has become harmful to people with mental health issues and drug addiction disorders.

“Social isolation has always been a huge component of drug overdose risk,” said Traci Green, an epidemiologist at Brown University who studies drug abuse and addiction. “So much of what we’ve been trying to do has been completely unravelled.”

Experts have pointed to other dangers lockdown poses such as;

  • Lack of revival fall back from other users due to an increase in solo drug users
  • Less emotional support as in person visits are scaled back
  • Inconsistent drug strength and quality
  • Supply or income disruption leading to inconsistent drug use habits and accidental overdose

 

Randox Toxicology

Using our revolutionary Biochip Array Technology, the Evidence MultiSTAT is a fully automated benchtop analyser that enables onsite, simultaneous testing for up to 21 classical, synthetic or prescription drugs from a single sample in under 20 minutes. This quick and highly reliable technology makes it perfect for use in hospitals and medical centres, as pressure increases with the rising number of drug overdose deaths in the US.

 

To find out more about our Biochip Array Technology and our Evidence Series range of analysers, visit www.randoxtoxicology.com or email info@randoxtoxicology.com

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EU Traffic Light System: How to get a COVID-19 PCR test before travelling

12 October 2020

EU Traffic Light System: How to get a COVID-19 PCR test before travelling

EU Traffic Light System: How to get a COVID-19 PCR test before travelling

As Covid-19 infection rates continue to rise in many parts of the world, an increasing number of countries are asking for a negative PCR test as a means of proof that travellers do not have the Covid-19 virus.

Whilst not yet a common requirement globally, it is understood that the EU could soon be turning to a Traffic Light System that will require pre-departure testing for individuals departing any of the 15 ‘red list’ countries – which includes the UK and could be extended to include Ireland.

Whilst there are currently a number of countries across the EU that do not require a negative COVID test for visitors from the UK, the implementation of this co-ordinated approach across the EU will place common requirements on all travellers from the UK, no matter which country they are visiting.

It could also be used in support of reduced quarantine in those countries which require it.

So – what is a PCR test?

PCR stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction and is a method of testing used to detect infectious disease, including COVID-19.

A PCR test is performed in a laboratory and is indicative of an individual’s COVID status at the time their sample is taken. It does not show previous infection.

Where can I get a COVID PCR test done?

PCR tests are available at Randox Health via an in-clinic appointment, or a home sample collection.

Are home tests accepted as proof of my COVID status?

It is important to note that many countries do not accept ‘home tests’ as proof of a negative COVID-19 result. Results must show that the test was performed in a certified laboratory.

Whilst Randox Health offers a home sample collection kit, all our testing is performed using PCR methods in our certified laboratories.

If the country you are travelling to requires a PCR test result, we’ve got you covered.

How do I know if I need a COVID PCR test?

You can check the entry requirements for your destination at gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Requirements are subject to change, so keep checking in the weeks and days leading up to your trip.

When do I take my sample for testing?

Your destination country will determine the time frame required for testing. For example, it may state that your sample needs to be taken and tested within 72 hours before departure / arrival. You cannot be swabbed before this time.

It is best to book / order your test in advance and take it as early as possible within your window, so that you allow for the maximum amount of time to get your test results back.

How long do I wait for my results?

Upon receipt of sample at Randox’s laboratories, you will receive your results within 24 hours.

Our rapid, accurate and reliable COVID-19 testing service will help get your trip off to a hassle-free start, with minimum disruption to your travel plans.

Visit https://www.randoxhealth.com/covid-travel-certificate/ to order your home sample collection kit or book your clinic appointment.

For further information please email info@randoxhealth.com or phone 0800 2545 130.

     

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    World Heart Day 2020: Take control of your heart health

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    29 September 2020

    World Heart Day 2020

    Take control of your heart health this World Heart Day

    The term ‘cardiovascular disease’ (CVD) refers to any disease of the heart, vascular disease of the brain, or disease of the blood vessel. More people die from CVDs worldwide than from any other cause: over 17.9 million every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Of these deaths, 80% are due to coronary heart diseases (eg heart attack) and cerebrovascular diseases (e.g. strokes) and mostly affect low- and middle-income countries.

    To try and raise awareness of the dangers of CVD and associated conditions, the World Heart Foundation celebrate World Heart Day on September 29th every year to inform and educate on the prevalence of heart disease.

    Our latest blog looks at CVD and provides more information on types of disease and symptoms, so you can know what to look out for and how to reduce the impact of potential future heart problems.

    The UK Situation

    There are around 7.4 million people living with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK. Heart and circulatory diseases cause more than a quarter (27 per cent) of all deaths in the UK; that’s nearly 170,000 deaths each year – an average of 460 people each day or one death every three minutes.

    Healthcare costs relating to heart and circulatory diseases are estimated at £9 billion each year.

    NationNo. of people dying from CVDNo. of people under 75 dying from CVDEstimated number of people living with CVD
    England136,31735,5816.15 million
    Scotland17,0024,675720,000
    Wales9,3762,607340,000
    Northern Ireland3,9381,085225,000
    United Kingdom167,11644,2617.4 million

    (British Heart Foundation, 2018)

    What are cardiovascular diseases?

    Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels and they include:

    • coronary heart disease – disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle;
    • cerebrovascular disease – disease of the blood vessels supplying the brain;
    • peripheral arterial disease – disease of blood vessels supplying the arms and legs;
    • rheumatic heart disease – damage to the heart muscle and heart valves from rheumatic fever, caused by streptococcal bacteria;
    • congenital heart disease – malformations of heart structure existing at birth;
    • deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism – blood clots in the leg veins, which can dislodge and move to the heart and lungs.
    World Heart Day

    What are the symptoms of cardiovascular disease?

    Symptoms of heart disease vary based on what condition you have but can include:

    • chest pain
    • pain, weakness or numb legs and/or arms
    • breathlessness
    • very fast or slow heartbeat, or palpitations
    • feeling dizzy, lightheaded or faint
    • fatigue
    • swollen limbs

    How is cardiovascular disease diagnosed?

    Diagnosis of coronary heart disease depends on your symptoms and what condition your doctor thinks you may have. Tests may be based on your family history and can include:

    • blood tests
    • chest x-ray
    • electrocardiogram (ECG)
    • echocardiogram
    • CT scan
    • MRI scan.

    How Randox Health can help

    Did you know that your heart is the size of your fist and the strongest muscle in your body? If you live to be 70, it will have beaten two and a half billion times.

    Although impressive and strong, your heart can also become vulnerable from habitual risk factors like smoking, eating an unhealthy diet or putting it under stress.

    Controlling these key risk factors and monitoring your blood pressure regularly may reduce an individual’s risk of CVD.

    At Randox Health, we provide a range of specialised tests that enable you to take full control of your health.

    Heart Health is one of our specialised tests and includes the Signature Heart Health panel of tests plus a resting ECG to give an in-depth assessment of risk of future heart disease.

    For World Heart Day 2020, you can gain a detailed understanding of your Heart Health with our range of testing. Contact us today using the below details.

    Click here to find out more about our testing.

    Click here to book a test with Randox Health. 

    Email: info@randoxhealth.com

    Phone: 0800 2545 130

     

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    Italian Authorities Seize Over $1B Worth of Amphetamines Originating From Syria

    News       About Us        Randox Toxicology

    23 September August 2020: Italian Authorities Seize Over $1B Worth of Amphetamines Originating From Syria

    Italian police intercepted and seized 14 tons of amphetamines with a street value of approximately $1.15 billion at the Italian port of Salerno in early July. This huge shipment was suspected to have originated from Syria before being transported to the base of a notorious European crime organisation in Naples.

    ‘Largest seizure of amphetamines in the world’

    In video footage the Italian Financial Guard military force posted to their Twitter account, authorities can be seen using electric saws to cut through 6-foot-high cylinders in shipping containers. The Customs Police Col. Domenico Napolitano called the discovery the largest seizure of amphetamines in the world after finding over 85 million pills inside the cylinders.

    Syria Identified as One of the Largest Producers of Amphetamines in the World

    Syria has become one of the world’s largest producers of amphetamines in recent years, and with production and distribution of such drugs in Europe appearing to have slowed down during the pandemic, the same cannot be said for Syria. As such, authorities are suspecting that crime organisations are placing orders and smuggling drugs from Syria into Europe.

    Randox Toxicology

    Randox Toxicology are helping to fight drug trafficking by continually investing in new technologies to aid in the rapid and large-scale screening for drugs of abuse. We are world leaders in drug testing solutions with the capability of detecting over 500 drug and drug metabolites using our innovative Biochip Array Technology – the most comprehensive on the drug testing market. Our patented Biochip Array Technology works across a variety of matrices including whole blood, urine and oral fluid.

    Using our revolutionary Biochip Array Technology, the Evidence MultiSTAT is a fully automated benchtop analyser that enables onsite, simultaneous testing for up to 21 classical, synthetic or prescription drugs from a single sample in under 20 minutes. This quick and highly reliable technology makes it perfect for use in non-laboratory settings for people with no lab experience.

     

    To find out more about our Biochip Array Technology and our Evidence Series range of analysers, visit www.randoxtoxicology.com or email info@randoxtoxicology.com

     

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    Alzheimer’s Disease Month at Randox Biosciences

    Randox Biosciences          Immunoassay Arrays          COVID-19

     

    15 September 2020

     

    Alzheimer’s Risk Array from Randox Biosciences

    September 2020 marks the 9th World Alzheimer’s Month

    World Alzheimer’s Month is the international campaign every September to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease associated with cognitive decline and is the most common form of dementia. It is defined as an irreversible, progressive brain disorder in which parts of the brain are damaged over time.

    According to Alzheimer’s Disease International dementia affects people differently – no two people will experience symptoms in exactly the same way. A person’s personality, general health and social situation are all important factors in determining the impact of dementia on an individual. The most common signs are memory loss, the loss of practical abilities, problems with language, changes in mood and behaviour, and withdrawal from work or social activities.1

    Who is affected?

    • There are currently around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. This is projected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040.2
    • 209,600 will develop dementia this year, that’s one every three minutes.2
    • 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have dementia.2
    • 70% of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems.2
    • There are over 42,000 people under 65 with dementia in the UK.2

    The Randox Alzheimer’s Risk Array is a rapid and highly sensitive blood test facilitating direct Apo E genotyping without the need for molecular testing.  Apo E is present in three common isoforms; Apo E2, Apo E3 and Apo E4. Alzheimer’s Disease risk is increased in individuals with the Apo E4 allele.

    Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) is a major cholesterol carrier that supports lipid transport and injury repair in the brain. ApoE polymorphic alleles are the main genetic determinants of Alzheimer Disease risk. Presence of ApoE4 allele is associated with increased risk for cerebral amyloid angiopathy and age-related cognitive decline during normal ageing.3

    Apo E4 is one of three common isoforms of Apo E and is recognised as a major genetic risk factor the development of Alzheimer’s disease.   Apo E4 triggers inflammatory cascades that cause neurovascular dysfunction, including blood-brain barrier breakdown, leakage of blood-derived toxic proteins into the brain and reduction in the length of small vessels.

    Utilising revolutionary patented Biochip Technology, the Randox Alzheimer’s Risk Array provides a unique solution for the measurement of both total apoE and the apo E4 isoform levels from a single patient sample, facilitating the fast and accurate classification of Alzheimer’s disease risk in comparison to brain scanning (CT and MRI).

    Key Benefits of Alzheimer’s Risk Array

    • 2-plex testing from a single sample
    • Assist in research and development of potential treatment
    • Early risk detection of disease
    • Small sample volume
    • Fast throughput

    Biochip Technology

    Biochip Technology is an immunoassay testing platform and is the core of Randox Biosciences. The intelligent chemically activated 9x9mm ceramic biochip acts as a solid phase reaction vessel. Benefits of Biochip Technology include:

    • The biochips are pre-fabricated with discrete test regions (DTR’s)
    • Highly accurate testing
    • Better diagnosis
    • Reduced sample volume
    • Wide test menu
    • Multiple sample types can be used on a Biochip
    • Cost consolidation

    Evidence Investigator

    The Evidence Investigator offers a high throughput even as a compact, semi-automated analyser promoting lab efficiency and cost saving solutions. Utilising Randox’s patented Biochip Technology, this platform facilitates multiplex testing in a rapid, accurate and easy-to-use format providing a comprehensive patient profile from one single sample. This analyser is suitable for medium throughput laboratories and is extremely robust with only one moving part.

    For further information on our early risk detection testing for Alzheimer’s Disease, please email info@randoxbiosciences.com

    References

    1. https://www.alz.co.uk/info/early-symptoms
    2. https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-us/news-and-media/facts-media
    3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3898682/

     

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    Preparing Your Vineyard for Harvest: A Randox Food Diagnostics Blog

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    28 August 2020

    Preparing your vineyard for harvest: Excellence in every glass

    Each year from August through October and maybe a little later, the Northern Hemisphere comes alive with the excitement and rush of harvest as wine makers celebrate with festivals, dinners and get together as the yearlong grape growing season comes to an end and harvest begins.

    Producing the highest quality wine grapes is dependent upon many factors – mainly the right amount of sun and rain. The growing process can be stressful for winemakers as they anxiously keep a close eye on weather conditions, in hope that it’s clear of frosts, heatwaves and hail. These can all have detrimental impacts on the vineyard.

    However, this year it hasn’t been weather conditions that have been a worry for winemakers. Instead, many vineyards have been significantly impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and events that once brought life to local communities and vineyards are now taking place online. Channels for selling wine such as hotels, restaurants and airports have dried up with current restrictions, and online and supermarket sales have never been more important.

    Like many industries the food and beverage sector has continued to operate through one of the most challenging times. Using a combination of expert knowledge and technology has ensured that the expectation put upon winemakers to create excellent wine is regularly achieved even in the toughest conditions.

    Did you know that a wide range of elements are measured to ensure perfection in every bottle, including levels of acidity and sugar ripeness relevant to the desired style of wine? Technology has been giving winemakers a helping hand in ensuring the quality of each harvest for many years including Randox Food‘s RX misano – a compact, fast and efficient benchtop spectrophotometer capable of gaining results in 8-15 minutes.

    For more information please visit Randox Food Diagnostics or email: info@randoxfooddiagnostics.com

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    Rise in Lockdown Drug Use Linked to Mental Health Issues

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    19 August 2020: Rise in Lockdown Drug Use Linked to Mental Health Issues

    A new survey has been published reporting on the devastating effects that nationwide and global lockdowns have had on people suffering with mental health issues and substance abuse.

    The survey delves into not only what drugs are being taken, but also crucially, why people are resorting to substance abuse during lockdown. Benzodiazepines and cannabis reportedly  ‘greatly increased’ or ‘increased’ in use within the first 4 weeks of the pandemic. Approximately one in two people surveyed are taking drugs currently; a sharp increase from one in five people before the pandemic.

     

    Anxiety, loneliness and stress

    The majority of respondents (71%) reported that they are still using drugs for fun, however there was also a significant rise in those reporting their reason for drug use as a way to cope with their mental health.

    Mental health concerns that came up were; anxiety, loneliness, stress and escaping reality.  Previously when this survey was conducted before the pandemic, each of these elements of mental health were reported at around 20%. Now however, they are being reported in approximately 30-50% of respondents.

    This is understandable, given the uncertainty of what lies ahead, and the fact that some will also be struggling with unemployment, money, relationships and self-confidence.

     

    Reduced Health Care Options

    Unfortunately, many health facilities have been operating at reduced capacity and have been unable to see patients due to the outbreak, meaning that people are indeed turning to drug use instead of professional medical help.

    As countries begin to open back up again and resume more normal health care activities, they will almost certainly see a rise in people seeking treatment for drug use.

    Using our revolutionary Biochip Array Technology, the Evidence MultiSTAT is a fully automated benchtop analyser that enables onsite, simultaneous testing for up to 21 classical, synthetic or prescription drugs from a single sample in under 20 minutes.

    To find out more about our Biochip Array Technology and our Evidence Series range of analysers, please visit randoxtoxicology.com or email info@randoxtoxicology.com

     

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    Dr Peter FitzGerald: “Nothing will ever be the same again.”

    Dr Peter FitzGerald: Nothing will ever be the same again.

    An Interview with Ulster Business Editor John Mulgrew in The Belfast Telegraph, in which Dr FitzGerald speaks to John about developing and helping roll out millions of tests for Covid-19, a forever changed society, the high likelihood of a similar pandemic returning and when a vaccine for the virus could be found.

    Dr Peter FitzGerald’s expertise and opinion has probably never been taken as seriously as it has in the last few months.

    “Nothing will be the same again,” he tells Ulster Business. And, of course, he’s right.

    His firm Randox – based in Antrim – has been on the front line of testing for Covid-19 right across the UK and beyond. And as a result, he’s hired hundreds of new staff and built a £30m testing lab to deal with additional deluge of work resulting from a global pandemic unlike anyone here has ever seen.

    “I think there is a reasonable chance there will be more pandemics, with globalisation and increased population,” he told Ulster Business. “I have no idea how much it will come back again in second wave.

    “We know we have the capacity as a company to respond, and respond well. I suspect the country is going to be better prepared… it’s hard to predict.”

    The medical testing giant’s first involvement with the current coronavirus strain began back in January, before it became an increasingly concerning dinner conversation in homes across Northern Ireland.

    “In late January, research called and were looking at doing a test,” Peter said. “We downloaded the genetic sequence of the virus and spent the next two weeks developing a test. We can do it very quickly, as we already had coronaviruses on chip.

    “It was sent to Public Health England, which took a while to prove it. We then got a contract to test for the NHS… we were doing what we thought was for the national good.”

    The initial deal didn’t include all of the UK, but Randox is now also testing Northern Ireland.

    “We do the testing and we have different analysers that do the testing as well, which we sell to labs across the world.”

    The virus has led to a new complete lab being built (in which Peter is pictured in) to deal with the additional testing. “We decided to accelerate the manufacturing in our Randox Science Park in Antrim,” he says.

    As a result, it has hired around 200 staff in the space of six to eight weeks to deal with the surge.

    “Because we had closely related strains of the virus, it was wasn’t so difficult to modify our tests to allow for slightly different variations… once we got the contract we soon realised that we didn’t have enough lab space to deal with the ramp up.

    “We then decided to be 33,000 sq ft of new lab space, and it was needed in three weeks. We got that done – work was 24 hours a day, and seven days a week. It’s now operating well. That has been very important in the process.”

    Randox had a workforce of around 1,450 worldwide before the coronavirus crisis began, but has since taken on around 280 additional staff for a range of roles, partly in ramping up demand for the additional testing.

    “A lot were being taken on a temporary basis but many will be permanent. We are not sure of the final numbers, but well over 100.” Those roles include scientists, manufacturers, and engineers.

    “Nothing will be the same again,” Peter says. “What it has done is heightened the importance of testing. People sometimes don’t know what we do here at Randox… but people now realise.

    “In the end, it’s a good thing. We are advocates of testing. It identities disease before symptoms occur and can save lives in many occasions. It saves lives and saves costs. It fits in with what we have been trying to do for years… as far as we are concerned, it’s the silver lining.

    “We have customers worldwide and other products kept going. We moved around 100 scientists into Covid-related things and then they have gone back to normal jobs as we bring in new people.

    “Some of our R&D projects have changed, new systems and new analysers allow for efficient and accurate testing.”

    Peter says that just a small element of the business has seen a decrease amid the crisis, while other areas around Covid-19 have grown. “Only a small element of core business decreased. But our Covid and other genetic products have increased… overall sales will be up and by end of year normal business up as well.”

    As a result of the latest expansion and growth across the business, generally speaking, Peter says the workforce looks set to climb to 1,650, with around 500-600 based at its main headquarters, just outside Antrim.

    Peter’s also keen to reiterate the importance of Northern Ireland and its people to Randox. “This is our home base. It’s where we do our primary R&D and manufacturing. We also have a facility in Donegal.”

    And, could all of this happen again soon, with a further outbreak or a similarly devastating strain or pandemic?

    “(We are) more prepared and our technology is getting more accepted through bio chips. Early detection is a very important next stage. You don’t want people who have a cough or fever to think they have Covid all the time. That is where testing comes in and that differentiates.”

    Peter says the next stop forward in a bid to address similar future incidents it also understanding how our immune systems work – better.
    “The other major step forward in many ways is understanding the immune system better. How to better respond to infection. This will be very important.

    “Some people are susceptible, and this could be genetic. (It’s about) working on certain genes in those who may have a bad attack. It will prepare humans better, the body’s defence, dealing with it as well.

    “I have a deficiency in a particular gene which means I’m more susceptible to respiratory (conditions) but the spin-off of the gene means I’m less susceptible to certain cancers. This is the issue – it is so complex. One could be a strength and one moment, a weakness.”

    And as for the formulation of a proven vaccine, Peter says: “I would say it would be well into next year.”

      For further information please email randoxpr@randox.com

      Photo Credit Elaine Hill

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      Chicago’s Rising Fentanyl Problem: A Randox Toxicology Report

      News       About Us        Randox Toxicology

      Chicago’s Rising Fentanyl Problem: A Randox Toxicology Report

      Abuse of opioids, and in particular, fentanyl, has been on the rise in the United States in recent years. The number of patients being prescribed painkillers has almost quadrupled since the 90s from 76 million to 289 million in 2016. It has been described as a uniquely American problem, where pain relief prescriptions are about 40% higher than other developed countries.

      Inevitably due to the high addiction rate of opioids, this has unfortunately led to increasing overdose deaths. In 2017 alone over 70,000 people died from drug overdoses in the USA with opioids being involved in 67.8% of cases.

      Chicago Illinois is no exception to this crisis. The National Institute of Drug Abuse found that Illinois has a rate of 17.2 deaths per 100,000 people from opioid overdoses, compared to the national average of 14.6. It is not only prescription painkillers that are adding to the opioid addiction crisis in Chicago, but substances such as fentanyl that is illegally sold on the street.

      Fentanyl is a cheaper, synthetic opioid which can be 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. It is commonly added to heroin to increase strength and cut costs. Many users believe they are purchasing heroin when in fact it can be mostly fentanyl, resulting in rising overdose deaths. The DEA’s Chicago lab have stated that the drug is making up a more of their workload than ever and becoming a regular drug they see.

      Randox Toxicology

      Randox Toxicology are world leaders in drug testing solutions with the capability of detecting over 500 drug and drug metabolites using our innovative Biochip Array Technology – the most comprehensive on the drug testing market. Using our revolutionary patented Biochip Array Technology, the Evidence MultiSTAT is a fully automated benchtop analyzer that enables on-site simultaneous detection of up to 21 classical, prescription and synthetic drugs of abuse from a single sample.

      Designed to work across a variety of matrices including; whole blood, urine, and oral fluid our patented multi-analyte testing platform provides a complete and highly accurate toxicology profile in 17-20 minutes. Most impressively the MultiSTAT has been designed to be fully operated from sample input to results output by someone with absolutely no laboratory experience and in any environment.

      To find out more about our Biochip Array Technology and our Evidence Series range of analysers, visit www.randoxtoxicology.com or email info@randoxtoxicology.com

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