Lateral flow tests ‘still highly accurate’, insists minister addressing false positive concerns

Health minister Edward Argar has defended the accuracy of lateral flow tests as the Government announced that everyone in England is to be offered free, twice-weekly coronavirus tests regardless of whether they have symptoms.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Argar said: “You’re right about the more people who are taking these tests the better because this is about trying to get people back to work, getting our society reopened, which we all want to see done as swiftly and safely as it can be done.

“These simple tests are a key part of doing that.

“In terms of the reliability of the tests, I think recent Test and Trace analysis around this suggests that out of 1,000 lateral flow tests, there was less than one false positive within those 1,000.

“So that is still a highly accurate test which can play a really important part in reopening our country and our businesses, because it is so simple to take.”

Mr Argar said he expected those returning to work in the coming weeks to be among the first to use the lateral flow tests on offer.

The health minister told BBC Breakfast: “I suspect in the first instance, a lot of them will be used by people who are starting to go back into their workplace again, as the economy starts opening up again, as pubs start opening for outside drinks and shops start opening again and as people start going back to their offices and businesses.

“So I suspect that will be a very large proportion of people who use these tests.”

The Conservative MP said the cost of supplying the quick-fire result tests to everyone in England would be met by the two-year £37 billion NHS Test and Trace budget.

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