Lateral flow Covid test sales ‘surge 400%’ before free scheme is scrapped

High street retailers say they will ‘continue to keep the public safe’ ahead of government scrapping free lateral flow tests from Friday

Maryam Zakir-Hussain
Thursday 31 March 2022 10:38
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<p>Free lateral flow tests  for Covid are coming to an end </p>

Free lateral flow tests for Covid are coming to an end

Sales for lateral flow tests from high street shops have soared ahead of the government scrapping free Covid-19 test kits on Friday, a retailer has said.

While tests are still available on the government website, Britons have flagged difficulties in ordering online as the deadline fast approaches.

As a result, high street retailers such as Lloyds Pharmacy say they have benefited, with the chain reporting a 400% increase in their sales from 15th to 21st March compared to 22nd to 28th March.

After being introduced early last year as a safety measure to help people check if they have the virus, lateral flow tests are being scrapped following a fall in cases in February this year as part of the government’s Living with Covid plan.

Between 23 March 2022 and 29 March 2022, 574,027 people had a confirmed positive test result, a decrease of -3.1% compared to the previous seven days.

Until now, people who fear they have Covid have been able to order free tests from the Government (PA)

However, in the same period there have been 1,051 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, an increase of 25.7% compared to the previous week.

Despite the increase in Covid-related deaths and concerns about the lack of restrictions, the government’s plan to scrap free tests will go ahead as planned.

There are some exceptions to who has to pay as those who are over-75 or over-12 with weakened immune responses are exempt from paying.

NHS staff who care for patients, hospital patients who need PCRs before treatment and care home residents also do not have to pay for tests.

Prices vary as the majority of Britons face having to pay in future to self-test for Covid-19.

Lloyds Pharmacy sells a single test for £1.89 or a pack of five for £9.29 (£1.86 each) which is the cheapest on the market.

They said: “LloydsPharmacy will continue to help keep the public safe and at the moment we offer lateral flow test kits in a selection of quantities to suit customer needs.”

Boots sells its cheapest tests for £2.

Asif Aziz, director of healthcare services at Boots UK, said: “We are pleased to be expanding our Covid-19 testing services even further, with affordable lateral flow testing options for those who still want peace of mind from asymptomatic testing after 1 April.

“While it is great that we are returning to normal and finding a way to live with Covid-19, we encourage our customers and patients to stay safe and continue to take measures to limit the spread of the virus, especially to those in vulnerable groups.

Elsewhere on the high street, a Healgen lateral flow test costs £1.99 at Superdrug, which is also selling a five-pack from Flowflex for £9.79.

On the slightly pricier side, leading Covid test provider Randox sells a pack of three lateral flow tests for £9 and a pack of 10 lateral flow tests are on sale for £20.40.

At online retailer 0 Covid Clear, another Government listed provider, prices for a single lateral flow test start at £14.99 and a single PCR test will set customers back £69.

Rapid tests will be rationed to hospital and care home patients and staff as part of the final stage of No10’s living with Covid strategy though Covid experts have expressed concern over this move.

The government said it is “working with retailers to ensure that everyone who wants can buy a test” and has published an approved list of lateral flow test providers, which can be found here.

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