Risks And Benefits Of Lateral Flow Tests

Did you know around 35% of Covid patients don’t show any symptoms, and that’s why the English government recommends getting a lateral flow test every week.

So, if you are a UK citizen, you can easily get a rapid test done locally, where the results come within 30 minutes. This is called lateral flow test, also known as the rapid antigen test.

But like with all other tests, the lateral flow tests have their pros and cons. So, let’s find out the risks and benefits of lateral flow test.

Benefits of lateral flow tests:

Before we move towards the risks, let’s talk about the advantages with the Lateral flow test.

  • Lateral flow tests are 95% effective (source) and can detect asymptomatic Covid correctly.
  • They are highly portable and relatively easy to use.
  • Unlike with PCR screening, you can easily get your Lateral flow test results within 30 minutes of the screening.
  • Lateral flow tests are highly affordable and have a minimum cost of around £24.
  • These test kits are super accessible and have more stocks than PCR. So, you can easily get your device at any local store, pharmacy or even online.
  • Due to the rapid increase in Covid cases, testing centres are overflowing with patients in line for screening. In such scenarios, lateral flow tests help relieve testing centres and reduce the frequency of hospital visits and hence the spread of infection.
  • These tests have excellent patient compliance and undergo a pain-free process.
  • They can still detect new variants of Corona virus-like Omicron.

Risks of Lateral flow tests:

Though lateral flow tests are fairly safe for health, they are accompanied by a number of risks. Fortunately, these risks are limited and can be ruled out easily; let’s have a look at them:

  • Since these tests are not 100% effective, getting a false negative or positive result can be risky for patients with the virus.
  • Ethylene oxide is used for sterilizing lateral flow test kits, which is hazardous for health. And long-term exposure to ethylene oxide causes eyes, nose, and skin irritation and can also damage your lungs and brain.
  • Lateral flow tests do not work in symptomatic Covid patients. Hence, such patients can falsely reassure themselves of not having Covid when they actually have it.
  • The lateral flow test is less efficient than PCR tests where the genetic material is overly multiplied to detect the tiniest viral material. These stages are not practised in LFTs, making them less effective for patients with low viral loads.

Bottom line:

To sum up, lateral flow tests are accompanied by both advantages and risks to society. Therefore, even though the benefits outnumber the risks, you should not ignore its side effects and do the test under limits with precautions.

For more information and to book a lateral flow test kit, click here.

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