Lateral flow tests (LFTs) have become a normal part of life as we learn to live with COVID-19 and ride the omicron wave.
But despite at-home testing reaching record levels in recent weeks – Over 1.7 million COVID-19 virus tests Taking January 3 alone – confusion remains about how LFTs work, are they safe and how to do them properly.
To Help, Rich Quelch at Pharmaceutical Experts Original Answer the questions we have about LFTs, from the sensible to the bizarre…
Should I report a negative lateral flow result?
The public is instructed to report each result, whether positive or negative, from the lateral flow test.
This helps scientists and governments gain a better understanding of the spread of the virus across the country. If only positive results are recorded, the level of COVID-19 cases will look worse than it actually is. Scientists also use the information to identify patterns and outbreaks more quickly and accurately.
Is there COVID-19 in tap water?
A TikTok video showing a positive lateral flow test from tap water has garnered over 10 million views, prompting the public to ask whether the main water has COVID-19 levels.
The answer is no – all tap water is disinfected before it reaches our homes. Any positive result from a liquid sample not intended for testing can give false and unpredictable results. With LFTs short, don’t waste a test kit just to prove it.
Can lateral flow tests cause cancer?
Misinformation is being spread online about how ethylene oxide – the liquid used in LFTs to sterilize swabs – can cause cancer.
While large amounts of ethylene oxide can be dangerous, only small amounts are used for sterilization to prevent the spread of infection. The MHRA has publicly confirmed that ethylene oxide is a highly controlled and safe method of sterilization.
If the positive result is visible after 30 minutes then is the positive result counted?
After completing the lateral flow test, your result will be visible within 30 minutes. If a faint positive line appears after this, it is likely a very weak contaminant or very low level of virus that will not be transmitted.
Whenever you do a test, set a timer for the waiting time specified in the test kit instructions.
Are negative lateral flow tests reusable?
If you are testing regularly at home, LFTs can generate a lot of waste. But whatever the outcome, unfortunately no plastic item or plastic packaging can be recycled.
Whether your result is positive or negative, place all used items in the plastic pouch provided in the multi-pack, seal it, and throw it away in the normal trash can. When you have completed your home testing, cardboard boxes and paper booklets can be recycled.
Can LFT swabs harm your brain?
While a nasal LFT swab may feel uncomfortable, there is no risk of it reaching or damaging your brain.
A nasal swab travels up a passageway that leads to the naval cavity, which is covered with soft, sensitive tissue. At the top of this passage is your nasopharynx where your nose meets your throat. We are not used to feeling this part of our body, but the more tests you do, the better the experience will be.
Can you reuse a negative LFT test?
With the shortage of LFT tests in all parts of the country due to unprecedented demand, it may be tempting to reuse a negative LFT test.
It should never be attempted, and the result will not be accurate. This is because the absorbent pad has already been saturated, and the binding reagents located on the nitrocellulose membrane have already targeted the test lines to produce results. This process cannot be reversed and a new sample cannot override the previous result.
All parts of the used test kit should be discarded once the results have been read and recorded.