Sir Menelas PangalosSir Menelas Pangalos of AstraZeneca
Sir Menelas Pangalos of AstraZeneca Credit: Marcus Lyon

三级成人视频It was a phone call between Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, and executives at AstraZeneca that might yet prove a turning point in Britain's coronavirus testing crisis.

Offers of simplifying the process and "doing things faster" were tabled by the pharmaceutical giant, which believes it can already test in batches at least three times bigger than other Government centres.

三级成人视频"Ultimately if the country wants to get to 150,000 or 200,000 (tests a day), we want to be able to get there as well," says Sir Menelas Pangalos, the company's executive vice president.

However, voicing strong opposition to what he describes as a "wild-west" culture of false dawns, he added: "Right now, baby steps, before we can run." Initial Government reticence to support from the private sector三级成人视频 has evaporated since Matt Hancock set the daunting target of increasing testing to 100,000 a day by the end of the month.

As a result, a refit has taken place at breakneck speed inside Cambridge Biomedical Campus's Anne McLaren Laboratory where more than 60 experts from AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and the university are now aiming to provide up to a third of the Government's tests. 

The Cambridge pharmaceutical scene - Britain's scientific equivalent of Silicon Valley - has never had it so busy. At its main lab, AstraZeneca are testing antibodies and treatments for an array of existing drugs for other ailments. Five years' worth of work is being crammed into the space of months, and a breakthrough, he says, over a treatment or vaccine is possible within six to 18 months.

However, he added: "There's a lot of anecdotes right now. We call it the wild west, because everyone is so desperate to find something and then they are getting very excited about very small numbers of patients. What I would like to see is some proper studies done, which are controlled and well done... until I see that sort of data, I'm not going to get excited about anything."

三级成人视频Sir Menalas, one of Britain's leading scientists, says cautiously that there will be therapies to keep patients out of intensive care.

"As we start to understand the biology of the virus better and the different stages of progression through the life cycle of the virus, I do think there are some therapies that will help keep patients out of the intensive care unit, or keep them off ventilation, which obviously as you get more progressed, your prognosis gets worse," he added.

"The reason I'm hesitant is that you see the headlines on chloroquine and azithromycin, and it's unfair." He is optimistic over the new Anne McLaren Laboratory testing site, which he believes will dovetail with the three "Lighthouse Labs" cited as key by the Government.

三级成人视频Sir Menelas added: "I do think the Cambridge centre will over time become a fourth centre. It's not competing. it's complementary. We are trying to create capacity for the UK, purely to help, and I think just the work we have done over the past few months, makes it easy to get up to speed quickly, and get the Cambridge site able to test 30,000 times a day, hopefully by the end of April, early May."

AstraZeneca, which have had a direct conversation with the health secretary and told him their services were free, have already been hard at work fast-tracking testing regimes for their own staff.

三级成人视频"The medicines we make treat asthma, treat COPD, the disease of the lung," Sir Menelas said. "They help with breathing, heart function, kidneys and pancreas. Some of the key areas affected by Covid-19.

三级成人视频"It's incredibly important we are able to supply our patients with our medicines... As a consequence of those conversations we've ended up saying actually why don't we, with GlaxoSmithKline and Cambridge University, just build up the capacity for what we're doing to give the country capacity."

The private sector believes it has an advantage over other testing labs because it works at a larger, more industrial scale. Other testing technology only allows assays (samples) to run 96 at a time, but "because we're starting from the bottom up we are already doing 384 at a time," Sir Menelas explained.

三级成人视频"So, just by doing that, we are more than tripling the throughput of what we are doing so if we can then convert the other sites from 96 to 384, that speeds things up and increases capacity." Britain has been criticised for lagging behind Germany in its testing numbers, but the 53-year-old says comparisons are unfair.

"To be fair to the UK, Germany has a diagnostics industry that does this for a living," he added. "We don't have a diagnostic system of scale in the UK. I think it's a little unfair and very easy to Monday referee on what we could have done differently.

三级成人视频"I think it highlights the importance of having some of these industries within your country in terms of moving quickly, but I think seeing how the country is responding, working together and trying to solve it, is a testament to how great this country is.

"And indeed the world, because everyone is doing their utmost. Forget about what their business is, let's solve what's in front of us and get back to normality as quickly as we can... AstraZeneca is not trying to help itself. It's trying to help the country, and ultimately the world. GSK and Cambridge are trying to do the same."

The race is now on to find treatments, however, and at the separate lab in Cambridge, antibodies will be key to a breakthrough, he believes, as they "can be used as a vaccine and a treatment". Testing there is being done in unison with America so work can take place 24/7.

三级成人视频"We need to know who has an immune response and who has the virus," he added. "That is important and the other thing is getting a therapy. That is the other thing that we are doing in parallel. We are taking existing medicines that we have today that we use to treat asthma, COPD, diabetes, heart failure, cancer and we are seeing whether any of those could be useful for treating against Covid-19, taking existing medicines to treat Covid-19. And another thing further down the road, but more likely to work, therapies that are targeting Covid-19 specifically such as antivirals, antibodies."

When asked when Britain can finally start to breath easy over the crisis, he said: "China's coming out of lockdown in Wuhan, having come down with it in November," added Sir Menelas, who previously worked at Pfizer. "I think social distancing and testing is the short-term answer, but I think it will take time. And ultimately we'll need a therapy - that's going to take six to 18 months."