How accurate are lateral flow tests?
“The accuracy of lateral flow tests, or any flow tests, are really important to understand”, answered Professor Paul Thomas.
“If you get a positive reading on a lateral flow test, you have the virus inside you, no doubt about it, you can be very confident that you are carrying the virus.
“If you get a negative test, that does not mean you do not have the virus, it means the virus has not been detected and there are several reasons why you could have the virus and still not test positive.
“So, it could depend on how you took the sample – when you stuck the stick inside your head and scraped around, did you actually scrape the right bit of tissue that had virus in it?
“Or maybe you have only recently been infected and the disease hasn’t developed yet so there isn’t enough virus for you to sample and test.
“And finally, maybe the chemicals or the test you were using were faulty and you sampled fine and the virus was there, but the test didn’t work properly.
“The lateral flow tests fail to danger. So, if you get a false negative reading you a very dangerous person if you behave like you haven’t got the virus.
“You have to behave as if you may the virus and the small things that you do – such as wear a mask, don’t get too close to people, maintain good biosecurity – could save someone’s life.
“Small actions have huge consequences so if you test negative it does not mean you’re safe, it means you should be careful.”