A FIRM selling lateral flow Covid tests to the government tripled staff pay last year after landing hefty supply deals.

Tanner Pharma UK paid 20 staff a combined £4.9million in 2020 – an average of £245,600 each – as profits soared during the Covid crisis.

The company, which supplies Chinese-made Orient Gene lateral flow tests for the NHS Test & Trace home kits, made £38.8m in 2020 compared to £1.4m in 2019, records show.

Bosses secured contracts worth over £200m last year and have racked up even more sales in 2021 for the company, which is the British arm of US-based Tanner Pharma Group.

Labour’s shadow health minister, Alex Norris MP, said: “These eye-watering figures will leave taxpayers wondering if the Government has secured the best deal on test kits.

“On the face of it it looks like their wasteful, shambolic approach to handing out Covid contracts continues.”

Home testing kit contracts have been controversial as billions were spent on the swabs while scientists argued about their usefulness.

But a study led by University College London last night claimed they are better than expected and likely detect over 80 per cent of people at risk of spreading the virus.

Scientists said the tests may perform badly because people get tested at the wrong stage of their infection, when virus levels are low.

Professor Michael Mina, an expert at Harvard University, said: “There is a spectrum of infectious amounts of virus and we show that lateral flow tests are likely to detect cases 90-95 per cent of the time when people are at their most infectious.”

Tanner Pharma UK was approached for comment.

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