Rapid lateral flow tests 95% effective at detecting COVID if used when symptoms start, study shows


Rapid lateral flow tests are 95% effective at detecting coronavirus if they are used at the onset of infection or as soon as symptoms start, a new study suggests.

Scientists have previously said that lateral flow tests (LFTs) are less sensitive at picking up COVID-19 cases than laboratory tested PCR swabs.

But a study of more than 2,500 people with flu-like symptoms has shown that LFTs picked up 95% of the coronavirus cases that the PCR tests did.

It also correctly identified 89% of COVID cases as negative.

LFTs function like pregnancy tests and look for coronavirus proteins to detect cases and take just 30 minutes.

PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests are laboratory tested and can take up to three days to process.

The research, carried out by experts at Queen Mary University of London, Oxford University, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna and the Medical University of Graz, is the first to compare the two forms of testing on a group of this scale.