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Covid lab marks first year anniversary

Testing in action at Southside (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A leading lab in the island’s battle against Covid-19 marked its one-year anniversary today.

A spokesman for the Bermuda Government Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory said its first year had been “a roller coaster”.

Its director, Carika Weldon, arrived in Bermuda last April with two PCR machines and 38,000 test kits, two weeks after being approached for the job.

Testing capacity ramped up swiftly, with the drive-through site launched at Southside in St David’s.

It was called “the most stringent testing regime in the world”, with antibody testing in place last May and the virus’ cycle threshold figure reported by June.

MDL has been able to track the top coronavirus variants of concern since February 2021.

April 3 marked a record day for testing at 2,150 samples.

More than 30 Bermudians have been training in molecular diagnostic testing, and more than 210,000 test results have been processed.

The spokesman said free testing had saved more than $60 million in insurance payments.

Saliva testing for the virus was launched last month.

MDL, which runs throughout the week at 16 hours a day, is staffed by 20, all under the age of 40,

The spokesman thanked the “Southside Swabbers” who volunteered for six weeks, and commended the lab’s team of summer interns.

Other labs used against the pandemic are Helix Genetic and Scientific Solutions, C & S West Limited and the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital laboratory.

The pharmaceutical firm Roche Bermuda, which donated laboratory machines and kits, also offered collaboration through its Roche Caribbean branch.

Dr Weldon said she had always hoped to foster a culture of science in Bermuda, and said MDL looked forward to further developments as a laboratory in the next 12 months.

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Published April 19, 2021 at 7:54 pm (Updated April 19, 2021 at 7:55 pm)

Covid lab marks first year anniversary

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