US officials say lateral flow tests are less effective at spotting Omicron

Lateral flow test

Boris Johnson's new Covid plans could cost workers £500 from next week. image: unsplash - john cameron

Health officials in the US have released data that seems to show that lateral flow tests are less accurate at spotting the Omicron variant, confirming fears held about the efficacy of the rapid tests. This comes amid UK calls for people to take a test before meeting up with others this New Year’s Eve.

The Food and Drug Association (FDA) said its new findings did show that the tests could still spot the super-transmissible new variant, but their experts have warned they could have reduced sensitivity, meaning they could give out false negatives regularly. This would wrongly tell infected people that they were free of the virus when they were in fact carrying it.

This is worrying news to the UK as they have bought no further restrictions into force pre-New Year’s Eve. They have however asked people to take a test before meeting up with others to stop people from unintentionally spreading the disease. Many people have hit back though, claiming they received negative lateral flow test results only later to test positive through a PCR lab test.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) insisted that their data shows the rapid tests being just as effective at detecting Omicron. Many people took to Twitter to detail their experience of receiving negative lateral flow tests only to test positive later. A user named @spaceangel1964 said: My son has had a positive Covid PCR test, despite the lateral flows tests showing he’s negative. He has all the symptoms of Omicron and feels pretty rough – He’s 25 and super fit.

“Please get a PCR test if you have symptoms, LFT’s are not reliable enough.”

Lateral flow tests are in demand as many pharmacies have run out of tests to be collected, and home delivery slots are all taken. As nightclubs and larger venues need proof of a negative test on the door, supplies have been run down as the New Year draws closer.

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Written by

Claire Gordon