Supply snags at Roche hit COVID-19 testing in the U.K.: Reuters

A disruption in the supply chain of Roche’s U.K. division has constricted its shipments of COVID-19 tests and other diagnostic supplies throughout the country, according to a report from Reuters

In a letter to customers obtained by the news service, Roche said testing laboratories may need to activate shortage contingency plans as it works to fix the problem—resulting from unforeseen logistical snags following the transition from an older warehouse to a new distribution center.

The issues have caused “a very significant drop in our processing capacity,” the company said in the letter, including in the delivery of swabs, testing kits and other consumable equipment. “The current backlog is likely to temporarily affect and disrupt services and unfortunately, at this stage we may not be able to provide a solution to avoid such a temporary disruption.”

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The interruptions come as the U.K. is in the midst of a new surge in confirmed coronavirus cases, with Roche serving as a major supplier to the U.K. National Health Service (NHS) and its testing programs. 

Since late September, the country’s positive test counts have risen to thousands per day, and are beginning to outpace the numbers seen during the earlier stages of the pandemic in April and May.

Roche said it expects the delays to improve in the coming days—while prioritizing the delivery of molecular and antibody tests for COVID-19 to the NHS—with larger improvements set for the next few weeks, according to Reuters.