Stoke-on-Trent company playing a major part in tracking Covid-19 infections across the UK


A diagnostic equipment specialist in Stoke-on-Trent is playing a major part in helping to track the number of Covid-19 infections across the UK.

Tunstall-based Una Health was launched in 2009 to work with medical equipment manufacturers all over the world to bring their products to market.

The company – which has 16 staff – supplies healthcare equipment including blood testing, respiratory testing and urinary testing equipment to GPs, laboratories and hospitals around the world.

Now the family-run business is working with Northern Ireland-based Fortress as their exclusive UK distribution partner to supply Covid-19 rapid antibody tests being used in the REACT study.

Laura Cartwright, business development director at Una Health, with one of the antibody kits.

REACT is a major Covid-19 testing programme which aims to track the progress of the infection. It is being led by a world-class team of scientists, clinicians and researchers at Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and IpsosMORI.

The home-testing kits which are being supplied by Una Health have been validated in a series of tests by Imperial College London and now 200,000 tests are expected to be rolled out in the next stage of the study.

Laura Cartwright, business development director at Una Health, said: “We have a huge network of manufacturers who we work with from across the world and it is our job to identify which products would work well for the NHS and the wider medical sector; we have to understand who to speak to and who to approach to get these products out there and make them available.

“The NHS is our biggest customer but we also work with commercial organisations such as cruise ships, universities and sports teams; basically anyone who has a need for diagnostic equipment.

“We have worked with Fortress for a number of years and know that their diagnostic kits are held in high esteem across the world.

“They came to us with their Covid-19 tests and asked us to get them out to the wider market and that is what we’ve done.

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“The tests have performed well in the study and excelled against 10 other Covid-19 antibody testing kits.”

The Fortress testing kits – which are instrumental in tracking the virus and helping to identify and monitor Covid-19 hotspots – have been put through a series of rigorous initial checks to validate their accuracy and their ease of use by the public.

They can be self-administered in people’s homes and involve taking a finger prick sample of blood which is then placed in a cassette.

Users find out the results of the antibody test in less than 15 minutes, which provides them with an indication as to whether or not they have been exposed to the virus.

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Laura said: “Prior to this Fortress was a name which was not very well known in the UK and we’re pleased that we’ve been able to work with them to get the tests out there.

“Not only that, we have been able to shout about Una Health and what we do too, which is great.”

Una Health is now working with another manufacturer to launch a new rapid antigen testing kit which will be able to detect present infection of the virus.

Laura said: “At the moment the antigen tests are for professional use only, for example in large businesses which have an on-site health care professional who can interpret the results, but we are working hard to try and launch a home-use test.”





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