Britons across the country are up in arms over the shortage of lateral flow tests as experts are warning they must do a swab just before seeing friends and family.
Stephen Reicher, professor of psychology at the University of St Andrews and a member of government advisory body the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group, told BBC Breakfast: ‘If you want a good Christmas dinner, I would say be very careful about meeting up before Christmas.
‘But you can do things to stack the odds in your favour if you ever do meet up – the first thing to do is to make sure that you have a lateral flow test.’
But furious Brits are still unable to get their hands on Covid test kits as the Government website continues to say they are out of stock and pharmacies have been forced to turn customers away.
Karen Honnor said: ‘Who knew that the ”must have” Christmas item this year would be lateral flow tests! The quest to get our hands on some so we can follow the rules is proving as difficult as hunting down a cabbage patch doll.’
And Luke Everitt took to Twitter to write: ‘Lateral flow tests are rarer than hens teeth. I’m surprised this isn’t being covered more given that it is a big weakness in our response to the Omicron spike.’
Journalist Martin Bright wrote: ‘Not a single box of lateral flow tests in any of our local pharmacies in North London. They tell me there is a single supplier.
And Lee Adam Kent made a joke on the classic inspirational quote ‘live, laugh, love’ by writing: ‘Live, laugh, lateral flow test’.
It comes as Irene Petersen, a professor of epidemiology at University College London, said official advice on testing should be updated as those infected with Omicron ‘may switch from being non-infectious to infectious within hours’.
Furious Brits are still unable to get their hands on Covid test kits as the Government website continues to say they are out of stock and pharmacies have been forced to turn customers away
Britons across the country are up in arms over the shortage of lateral flow tests as the Government website continues to say they are out of stock and pharmacies have been forced to turn customers away
Amid lateral flow test shortages, the UK Health Security Agency has issued pharmacies with a poster telling customers that they are out of stock and to ‘try again tomorrow’
Government guidance currently recommends taking a lateral flow test ‘if you will be in a high-risk situation that day’.
Prof Petersen told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘That’s not good enough. We’re seeing so many examples now where people have taken a test a day before and then when they take one the day after they are positive.
‘Omicron is very, very fast, so the test result expires very quickly. It is hours that we are talking about now.’
However the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) warned pharmacies not to expect more deliveries of lateral flow tests over the weekend, according to Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).
Amid the shortages, the UKHSA has issued pharmacies with a poster telling customers that they are out of stock and to ‘try again tomorrow’.
And as another lockdown looms over the country, disgruntled Brits trying to stay safe over the festive period have taken to Twitter to voice their irritation over being told by the Government to do a Covid test as often as possible but being unable to get their hands on any.
Despite assurances more stock would be provided last week, most pharmacies were left unable to get any deliveries of lateral flow tests on Friday (stock image)
UKHSA warned pharmacies not to expect LFD deliveries over the weekend, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee said. Pictured: Boots pharmacy in Epsom, Surrey
Paul Jaymes said: ‘London Covid-19 testing systems seem close to breaking point. PCR tests taking days to get results, rendering them somewhat ineffective.
‘Lateral flow tests completely out of stock everywhere.’
Another wrote: ‘No one can get a Covid test and all of the at home tests are sold out.’
Dominic Tinley said: ‘I’d love to know how Boris Johnson brown-noser Maggie Erewash found a trolley full of Covid test kits as a prop for a rare news interview she gave today, because according to gov.uk they’ve been out of stock all week.’
Another irritated user wrote: ”Test every two days’.
‘Tried five pharmacies today, all out of stock…’
And as another lockdown looms over the country, disgruntled Brits trying to stay safe over the festive period have taken to Twitter to voice their irritation over being told by the Government to do a Covid test as often as possible but being unable to get their hands on any
Actor David Schneider uploaded a picture of the Government website showing thath no PCR tests are available throughout the entire country.
He wrote: ‘NHS website crashes. No lateral flow tests available. Now no PCR tests available.
‘It’s almost as if Boris Johnson made his announcement to distract from his lies without any plan or thought for the consequences.’
It comes as Boris Johnson is facing a crunch 48 hours to decide if he will impose new coronavirus curbs before Christmas as he faces a growing Cabinet revolt over a potential further crackdown to slow the spread of Omicron.
The Prime Minister has been presented with three options to tackle the variant amid surging case numbers, with the lowest level of intervention consisting of advice to limit household mixing indoors, according to The Telegraph.
The second level would see mandatory restrictions on household mixing, the return of social distancing and an 8pm curfew for pubs and restaurants while the third and toughest level would see a return to something close to a full lockdown.
New push to cut ten-day Covid isolation period to a week
Ministers are considering slashing the quarantine period for people who test positive for Covid from ten to seven days.
As reported in Saturday’s Daily Mail, health experts, MPs and business leaders have called for a change, warning that the current rules risk crippling healthcare and the economy.
Anyone who is infected with the virus must isolate for ten days after first developing symptoms or testing positive.
But the ‘blunt tool’ fails to account for infectiousness and is fuelling ‘lockdown by stealth’ by keeping so many people at home.
Now it has emerged that modelling by government scientific advisers indicates it would be possible to reduce the isolation period without having a significant impact on infection rates if people had a negative test before they were released.
Sources say the change in policy is ‘being looked at’ to stop the country grinding to a halt.
It even has the backing of Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, whose doom-laden forecasts prompted previous lockdown measures.
Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday how he would feel about reducing quarantine to seven days, Professor Ferguson said: ‘All the modelling and analysis would suggest if it’s coupled with lateral- flow testing it’s not going to reduce the effectiveness of the measure that much.’
Patricia Marquis, England director at the Royal College of Nursing, urged the Government to listen to scientific advisers to ease pressure on the NHS.
She told BBC Breakfast that the Government should listen to ‘whatever the scientific advisers are saying in both the pattern of spread of Omicron, and the effect that it’s having on people, their health and the health service’ and that the science needs to guide whatever comes next to protect the NHS from what could be a ‘real collapse’.
However, GP Carl Heneghan said the country is in a different place from last year, and ‘we are in deep, deep trouble of potentially talking ourselves into annual lockdowns’.
As he was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Professor Heneghan asked: ‘When are we going to treat people like adults?’, adding that the behaviour of people in England has ‘already changed’.
He said: ‘It’s already changed in response to the messages. If you’re in Greater London now, (population in) the workplace is down by 40%. In the City of London, it’s up to 60%. So people are able to respond to information or adapt their behaviour accordingly.
‘People will moderate their behaviour accordingly. That’s what we need to trust people to do going forward because that’s the only sustainable policy.
‘This time last year, there were over 2,000 people being admitted (to hospital). So we’re in a very different place with the presence of vaccines, the presence of boosters, antivirals on board, and you have to reflect on that information.
‘Because what happens is this is as good as it gets.’
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said he cannot give any ‘hard, fast guarantees’ that more restrictions will not be needed ahead of Christmas Day.
However, he added that the country is in a better position ‘to enjoy Christmas with loved ones this year’.
On Wednesday, the UKHSA said it plans to increase capacity of home delivery of lateral flows and PCR tests to 900,000 a day after what it described as a ‘week of unprecedented demand’.
Ministers blamed ‘distribution issues’ on the lack of lateral flow tests after delivery slots on the Government’s website run out and pharmacies were told they couldn’t have extra swabs this week.
But the PSNC, which represents all 11,200 pharmacies in England, said the UKHSA told them orders placed on Wednesday and Thursday would be cancelled, with orders from Friday onwards being fulfilled as more stock becomes available.
More stock is expected to be delivered to pharmacies on Monday and throughout next week, while Parcelforce will be on hand to deliver extra stock if required.
Grant Shapps blamed ‘distribution issues’ on the lack of lateral flow tests after delivery slots on the Government’s website run out and pharmacies were told they couldn’t have extra swabs
The UKHSA’s agreement with Alliance Healthcare, which distributes healthcare products to more than 110,000 pharmacies and hospitals, sets out delivery within three working days.
People who get COVID-19 after vaccine may have ‘super immunity’
A new study finds that those who get a breakthrough COVID-19 infection after being fully vaccinated may acquire ‘super immunity’ from another infection.
The small study compared 26 vaccinated staff at Oregon Health & Science University who had breakthrough infections to people who were vaccinated but never got the coronavirus.
The breakthrough group saw a surge in antibodies.
‘The increases were substantial, up to a 1,000 percent increase and sometimes up to 2,000 percent, so it’s really high immunity,’ said study author Fikadu Tafesse, a molecular microbiology and immunology professor at OHSU in Portland, Oregon.
‘It’s almost “super immunity.”‘
Alastair Buxton, PSNC’s Director of NHS Services, said: ‘It is regrettable that despite reassurances earlier this week, UKHSA have now told us that many pharmacies will not receive further LFTs today, and possibly on Saturday.
‘Pharmacies are still experiencing huge demand for tests, and this is adding to the considerable pressures that they are already under at this busy time of year.
‘Pharmacy teams are working flat out to meet patient demand for tests, healthcare advice and medicines, with some also busy offering COVID boosters.’
Grant Shapps blamed ‘distribution issues’ on the lack of lateral flow tests after delivery slots on the Government’s website run out and pharmacies were told they couldn’t have extra swabs.
Mr Shapps claimed there are enough lateral flow tests to go around – despite the Government’s own website yesterday saying there were ‘no tests available to order for home delivery’.
But he said the issue had been getting the tests out to people. Mr Shapps said health chiefs were working with the Royal Mail, Amazon and other delivery firms to get tests out to homes and pharmacies.
Squirming as he answered a question from Sky New’s Kay Burley, he said: ‘Just on lateral flow tests, which actually, uniquely, in that as far as I can see there aren’t other countries that have been supplying these free of charge to their citizens, major economies haven’t generally been doing this, and we have in this country, you are right, particularly since the new measures, the booster programme, asking people to be testing, came in, it can be difficult at different times of day to get those.
Covid hospital admissions have spiked by more than a third in a week in Britain’s Omicron hotspot of London, official data shows
The number of confirmed cases of Omicron in England increased by 69 per cent on the previous day’s total – up 9,427 to 23,168, figures from the UKHSA showed today
Mr Shapps went on to say: ‘I did notice yesterday actually that at certain times of day you could get them, they are coming back in.
‘There’s plenty of supply in the country, what we are having issues with is the distribution route.
‘And I know my colleagues at the health department are working with Amazon and Royal Mail and others to try and make sure that distribution gets out and still goes to pharmacies.’