Hartlepool electronics factory to make new 20-second Covid-19 test that could 'get the world moving again'

A Hartlepool electronics factory is to make a new high-tech Covid-19 testing machine that could help get the world moving again.

Thursday, 10th September 2020, 3:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th September 2020, 4:39 pm

The Virolens device, which can detect the presence of the virus from a saliva swab in just 20 seconds, will be manufactured exclusively at TT Electronics’ site on the town's Tofts Farm Industrial estate.

The company has had initial orders worth £2 million and its manufacture is expected to create up to 100 extra jobs at the Hartlepool factory.

Executive Vice President Charlie Peppiatt told the Mail: "TT Electronics is a global electronics business with design and manufacturing capability and we’re using a number of our other capabilities and technologies from other businesses and other sites, some of them in the UK, some in North America and some in other parts of the world which is being pulled together here in Hartlepool for the full and final assembly of the unit.

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TT Electronics Executive Vice President Charlie Peppiatt inside of the production area at the Hartlepool plant. Picture by Frank Reid.

"We’re very excited to be able to create new employment and work opportunities in the North East particularly here in Hartlepool especially at a time when unemployment is rising.”

The screening device is around the size of a home printer and works by taking a saliva swab which is inserted into a plastic cartridge with a small lens.

That is placed into the device which uses microscopic holographic imaging and artificial intelligence software to give a result in seconds.

Heathrow Airport has already trialled it and could be used to effectively create Covid-free environments at sports stadiums, work places, and major transport hubs.

TT Electronics on Tofts Farm Industrial Estate in Hartlepool. Picture by Frank Reid.

There have been significant expression of interest from Europe, North America and other parts of the world.

Mr Peppiatt added: "Fundamentally, the difference from this test to other more traditional tests is that it’s effectively using physics rather than biology to make the analysis by some very clever technology.”

It was developed in just 23 weeks by British tech firm iAbra with TT Electronics also playing a key role in its design and development.

Mr Peppiatt added: “The team in Hartlepool have done an amazing job in taking that concept and design for manufacture to building the machine and getting it ready to go to launch and hopefully get the world moving again.”

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