SCOTTISH AGRI-SCIENCE institutions have offered their expertise and equipment to tackle coronavirus.

The James Hutton Institute, Scotland's Rural College and the Rowett Institute are switching their focus away from infectious diseases in livestock, environmental security and nutrition, to provide vital scientific equipment to help with testing, and have volunteered staff to work on projects too.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham commented: “Scotland is proud to have some of the world’s leading science and research institutions. During this unprecedented global pandemic, the response of our research institutions in volunteering staff and laboratory equipment has been great to see.

“In the long term, their collective expertise and resources could make a huge difference in accelerating our understanding of, and refining our response to, this virus," she continued.

“More immediately, the provision of PPE and laboratory equipment will help our frontline NHS staff to carry on with the incredible work they are doing.”

The James Hutton Institute has loaned two Qiagen QIACube sample processing units to NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Highland. They have also loaned Fast Optical 96-Well Reaction Plates and seals for PCR testing to testing labs in Edinburgh, which are used to analyse swab samples during testing for Covid-19.

Rowett Institute has loaned two ThermoFisher Applied Biosystems 7500 Real Time PCR machines and one Qiagen QIACube sample processing unit to NHS Grampian. These machines will increase the number of tests clinical labs can process per day.

The James Hutton Institute is also giving international researchers access to use its high-performance computing capability to help analyse Covid-19 DNA sequences. The institute has donated masks, safety glasses, over 4500 sterile gloves and more than 1000 overshoes so far to NHS Tayside.

SRUC has provided NHS Dumfries and Galloway with equipment, oxygen and PPE, including 130 sterile gowns, 600 pairs sterile gloves, 100 masks, 150 caps, 100 shoe covers, 100 aprons and 3000 examination gloves.