Fears lateral flow tests to replace PCRs may not be as cheap as hoped

Details of the day-two lateral flow tests to replace PCR tests for vaccinated arrivals in October are expected within days, but there are concerns they may be more expensive than hoped.

A leading aviation source told Travel Weekly: “The danger is these tests have to be supervised or incorporate the cost of a follow-up PCR test [when a traveller tests positive]. Then the savings we hoped for won’t be achieved.

“A supervised lateral flow test might cost as much as a non-supervised PCR test, particularly if the cost of a follow-up PCR test is shared.” It’s understood follow‑up PCR tests for travellers testing positive will be free to ensure they are taken and samples can be sequenced.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps told MPs on the Transport Select Committee last week: “I want the announcement out as quickly as possible. I appreciate the urgency.”

He also told The Sun: “I look forward to the expansion of lateral flow tests, perhaps into supermarkets.”

Yet according to the source: “The test result has to match up to the Passenger Locator Form or it defeats the purpose. That precludes a mass-market test provider, so they’re looking at existing test providers and the cost won’t be as cheap.

“We’re awaiting details of how it will work. The delay is due to ensuring systems work and operate together. They keep saying we’ll hear soon – we hope in a matter of days. The point that we need this in time for the school half-term has hit home.”

So far there has been no confirmation that day-two lateral flow tests will need to be supervised, but no denial.

Media reports suggested the UK and EU Covid certificates could soon be integrated to allow mutual recognition, with an EC spokesman confirming “significant progress”. There were also reports the government could end hotel quarantine for vaccinated arrivals from red list countries after Ireland abandoned the policy.

However, the source said: “The UK red list is being looked at but the government has not been minded to follow other countries before and we can’t see them doing so now.”

More:Grant Shapps suggests new testing rules to start before half-term

Transport secretary ‘chivvying’ health officials for Covid test change

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