‘Urgent’ Concerns Rapid 30-Minute Covid Tests May Give False Positives

A lateral flow test

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Concerns have been raised over the massive use of rapid Covid tests with warnings as few as two percent yielding accurate results, it has been reported.
Everyone in England is now eligible for free rapid coronavirus tests which can be used twice a week.

Rapid tests give results in less than 30 minutes and Britons are encouraged to take them as part of a regular testing system put in place to combat the spread of the virus.

The government says regular testing will help everyone return to normal life, as infected people can be identified more effectively even if they don’t develop a cough, fever, or lose their sense of smell and taste.

But now senior government officials have reportedly raised “urgent” concerns over the mass deployment of the test equipment.

Mass tests aim to slow the spread of the disease
(Image: PA)

The Guardian reports that officials have estimated that 2-10% of positive results could be correct in places with low Covid rates.

Leaks of emails the newspaper viewed would show officials are considering reducing the number of widespread tests on people without symptoms, due to a growing number of false positives.

In an email, Ben Dyson, executive director of strategy at the health department stressed the “fairly urgent need for decisions” on “when we stop offering asymptomatic testing.”

On April 9, he wrote: ‘As of today, someone who gets a positive LFD result in (say) London has at best a 25% chance that they are really positive, but if they are This is a self-reported test potentially as low as 10% (on an optimistic assumption about specificity) or as low as 2% (on a more pessimistic assumption). “

Questions have been raised about the accuracy
(Image: Getty Images)

He added that the department’s executive committee should decide whether forcing people to self-isolate before confirmatory PCR testing “ceases to be reasonable” in areas with low infection, where there is high infection. probability of an erroneous positive result.

The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs reportedly said the testing policy was under continuous evaluation and that there was “no plan to end the universal program”.

Launching Covid testing earlier this month, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “About one in three people have coronavirus without any symptoms, so getting tested regularly is one of the most common ways. simple and easiest to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

“I encourage everyone to take the offer and test twice a week.

“Along with the successful roll-out of the immunization program, rapid tests will be one of our most effective weapons in combating this virus and ensuring that we can prudently reopen our economy and parts of society that we have all missed. “

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