One of the many tricky things about COVID tests, as well as having swabs scratched around your nostrils and throat, is the length of time it takes for results to come back.
Those who have found themselves needing to self-isolate have had to wait at least a few days to know whether they've caught the virus, with recent figures showing just 15.1% of people are receiving results within 24 hours through the official system.
Now Boots will be offering a test, which they say can give results within 12 minutes, at selected stores within weeks. It involves a nose swab taken by a small portable machine.
Unlike NHS testing stations, they are open only to people who aren’t showing symptoms, to give them peace of mind. (Anyone who thinks they have COVID and/or are showing symptoms should self-isolate and follow government guidelines, contacting the NHS to book a test at home or via drive-in instead.)
The pharmacy are working with UK-based LumiraDx devices, which can process swab tests far faster than others on offer. Though this convenience comes at a price… of £120. A spokesperson told the Guardian that this cost could drop, demand depending.
Despite Boots saying it was one of the cheapest tests on the market, Julian Peto, a professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told that the Guardian that he believes that the price is ‘exorbitant’.
He told the outlet: 'The Abbott rapid antigen test, which seems similar to the LumiraDx test that Boots is offering, was purchased wholesale by the US government at $5 [£3.84] per test … Five dollars was the cost of the test consumables and doesn’t include the cost of the machine and the operator’s time, but £120 per test seems exorbitant.'
Boots declined to comment on the wholesale price of the test and machines it had bought from the UK-headquartered firm LumiraDx.
As the results don’t come from a registered lab, the tests won’t be authorised for those with an impending holiday that requires a negative result to entering the country. However Boots are also offering a 48-hour test at 10 stores across London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh, also £120, which is.
It comes just a week after Heathrow launched a one-hour testing service in Terminals 2 and 5, which travellers can book for £80 before they fly.
Trials show, as with most testing services, results are not 100% accurate but enough to identify cases. Anyone who tests positive should self-isolate.
Prof Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia, who spoke to the BBC, reminded people that: ‘A negative test today tells you nothing really about whether you are going to be positive a day or two later.’
While there are limits to the benefits, it will be useful to those who are visiting elderly relatives or who have a gathering, like a wedding or funeral, within the next few hours.
Research shows on average people develop symptoms 5.1 days after being infected.
The 48 hour tests can be booked through the website.
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