Doctor reveals when your positive lateral flow test result might be wrong


Lateral flow tests are a key part of the government’s Plan B, with Brits urged to use them before meeting in groups or seeing vulnerable loved ones

Brits have been urged to use lateral flow tests before meeting in groups or seeing vulnerable loved ones
Brits have been urged to use lateral flow tests before meeting in groups or seeing vulnerable loved ones

A London-based doctor is helping to clear up confusion around false positive Covid lateral flow tests – and has shared some advice on what to do if you’re unsure about your result.

The rapid tests are a key part of the government’s Plan B measures, with Brits urged to use them before meeting in groups or seeing vulnerable loved ones.

While officials say lateral flows are an effective tool in detecting the virus, questions have been asked about their accuracy with the new Omicron variant.

And as their use increases, many people are still confused about what their test results could mean.

This uncertainty led one doctor to share some advice on how to tell if a faint line on a lateral flow test may be a sign of a wrong Covid positive result.

Instagram user @expedition_doctor , who is a medical professional based in London, shared a picture of a lateral flow test with a barely noticeable positive line.

He explained to Instagram users that if this ‘positive’ line appears after the 30-minute window in which testers should wait for a result, then it does not count as a positive test.

The lateral flow tests are a key part of the government’s Plan B
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Image:

Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The line may have been caused by very weak contaminants, such as food or drinks, rather than coronavirus, the doctor, said.

He added if any line appears before the end of the interpretation window – which is usually 30-minutes – then this is a positive test and you must self-isolate and book a PCR.

The medic wrote: “If the faintly positive line appears after the time window, the most likely cause is either that there has been some contamination (e.g. food or drink, or some other very weak contaminant that is causing a false positive), or there are just incredibly low levels of the virus.

“If it is the latter, and obviously assuming you are asymptomatic at this point, then you are very unlikely to be a transmission risk anyway and so it is of little significance.

“Therefore, the most sensible next step, in my opinion, is not to isolate unnecessarily (bad for mental health and work etc), and not to book a PCR (makes it harder for people who genuinely need them to get one), but to be extra careful with precautions (social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing), and to continue testing with LFTs as per NHS guidance.”

He added: “Close contacts of covid should do daily LFTs for seven days if both asymptomatic and fully vaccinated, or asymptomatic and 18 or under.

If the ‘positive’ line appears after the 30 minute window in which testers should wait for a result, then it does not count as a positive test, Nathan said
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Image:

Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“If not a close contact, then you should do a LFT before mixing with people indoors and before visiting someone who is at higher risk of getting seriously ill from covid.

“Lastly, please remember, if you have symptoms, you should isolate and book a PCR, even with a negative LFT.”

Pharmacy staff have faced abuse in recent weeks from angry customers desperate for lateral flow tests over the festive season, amid shortages.

Alastair Buxton, director of NHS Services at Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said that “powerless” staff are having to tackle customers demanding the tests which aren’t available due to the supply problem, reported the i.

Lateral flow tests are unavailable in parts of the country and the huge demand means that some shops are running out of kits within hours of opening.

Mr Buxton told the i: “Due to a daily cap imposed by Test and Trace, pharmacies are powerless to order more tests than they already do, so we would ask for patience with pharmacy teams if they have run out – they are all trying to get more stock in as quickly as possible.”

Several days this week, including Friday, the government’s website suspended home deliveries despite new government rules making lateral flow tests necessary for people without double vaccines to enter some venues.e

Revellers keen to head out this Christmas have also been blamed on social media for hoarding lateral flow tests.

The PSNC has said it is worried about pharmacy staff being abused.

It stated: “Although pharmacies are still receiving daily deliveries of tests, in many locations, these are very rapidly being used up. We have asked for pharmacies to be able to order additional stock… but this is apparently not possible – so pharmacies have no way to order tests beyond their usual daily cap, and no plan B if their local distribution centre is out of stock.”

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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