People are paying £149 for coronavirus home testing kits – demand has quadrupled
Reporter: Joseph Timan
Date published: 13 October 2020
Covid-19 Home Testing Kit
People are paying privately for coronavirus home testing kits at a cost of £149.
One private practice says demand for their Covid-19 home detection tests sold online quadrupled over the summer in and around Greater Manchester.
In September, when the national testing system struggled to cope with an increase in demand, there was a 310 pc month-on-month increase in private PCR tests sold online by Pall Mall Medical to customers around the region.
A total of 168 tests were sold online to customers in Manchester, Warrington, Salford, Bolton, Bury, Knutsford and Wigan that month, up from just 17 in July.
This does not include people who bought kits in person or over the telephone.
Although the kits are available across the UK, 30 pc of sales since its launch in June until September were in the Greater Manchester area, the practice said.
Dr Chun Tang, a GP based in Pall Mall’s Manchester and Newton Le-Willows clinics, said demand increased in September due to cases rising in the region.
He said: “The NHS is unable to meet demand especially with a massive increase in cases.
“As the NHS has home tests and drive-throughs, the public need to have symptoms to take these tests.
“But, as people need to travel and need to work and prove that they’re Covid negative, there has been a rise in private PCR tests.”
The private healthcare company has been sending out home testing kits to patients for a throat, nasal or oral swab which is posted to a processing lab.
However, Pall Mall Medical’s tests are processed separately from the national Lighthouse labs which means that capacity is not taken away from the NHS.
Dr Tang said the private PCR home detection tests are ‘generally highly accurate’ – 95 pc and above – but accuracy depends on the swab technique.
He added: “It is best to have extra time sampling the nose and throat as Covid-19 is highest in the nose.
“It is important to post as soon as possible, as preservation of the sample lasts days.”
Private PCR Home Detection Tests have been most commonly bought by people travelling, people needing an urgent test result and companies.
Pall Mall Medical sold 88 kits to companies across the UK in September.
But 317 of the tests ordered online nationwide were for individuals.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “In Manchester, thousands of coronavirus tests are being carried out every single day, for free, by NHS Test and Trace.
“Demand is high and we are processing tests at an unprecedented scale – more than 250,000 a day on average over the last week – and are on track to increase capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.”
The government does not have a published list of recommended private providers offering Covid-19 tests.
Anyone looking to procure a test from a provider should check the test being offered by the provider is legal in the UK either through having a CE mark or a valid exemption, the Department of Health and Social Care has advised.
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