As part of the national effort to expand testing for Covid-19, the University of Bath has been tasked with verifying the quality of chemicals that are used to manufacture the components of diagnostics kits.

Scientists working at the University’s Material and Chemical Characterisation facility (MC₂) conduct purity analysis of chemical products manufactured by LGC, Biosearch Technologies at their facility in Bellshill, near Glasgow. These products are then used to make essential components of Covid-19 test kits. LGC, Biosearch Technologies is a long-standing client of the University, frequently sending samples to the Material and Chemical Characterisation facility for analysis.

The facility uses an analysis technique known as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, which confirms if a compound has been synthesised successfully. The facility's advanced instruments are also being used to confirm the quality of solutions manufacturered at the University and used in face mask 'fit checks' in hospitals in and around Bath.

Dr John Lowe, senior nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopist at the University, said: “We are delighted that LGC has trusted us with this important job. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, we were running weekly tests for LGC, as a key part of the company's quality control. What we are now doing for the Covid-19 reagent testing, although technically no different to what we do for all the compounds they send us, has taken on added importance and significance.”

He added: “Our plan during the lockdown has been to visit our University lab once a week to run the reagent tests, but if LGC needs us to deal with emergency samples, we are committed to doing that too.”