Lateral flow tests to remain free until end of August
The Government has confirmed that lateral flow tests for COVID-19 will be available free-of-charge until at least the end of August. The scheme to provide various settings including workplaces with these lateral flow devices has therefore been extended after doubts were raised over the length of the free-of-charge offer. LFDs have been available via the postal service, and also pharmacy collection programmes. The Government says employers have until 19 July to order free rapid lateral flow tests for employees.
The Government has defended the use of LFDs, especially regarding its goal of identifying asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 and the reduction of its spread in communal spaces such as schools, offices, certain events. “So far 251,126 positive cases have been detected using LFDs that wouldn’t have been found otherwise, helping to break chains of transmission and save lives”, a Government spokesperson stated.
The Government’s LFD programme was fuelled by concern that the virus manifests itself asymptomatically in one-in-three positive cases. Concern over their accuracy has also been set aside by DHSC, new studies have been released by the Government that maintain their use in widespread and home-use screening.
Labour's shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has criticised any proposal to introduce charges for tests at the same time cases are surging in the country. Whether LFDs will be charged for as part of the Government’s future testing policy remains unclear from the end of Summer.