According to research, Covid lateral flow testing don’t seem as effective on children. This raises questions about whether schools can stop the spread of the virus.    

LFD testing is encouraged for all secondary school students of Britain.  

But writing in the BMJ’s Evidence-Based Medicine, experts said the rapid kits were not as effective as hoped in youngsters. 

British and German scientists gathered data from over 6,000 children in 17 studies that examined the effectiveness of lateral flow in detection of Covid among young people. 

The team found that overall, the tests — which give results in as little as 15 minutes — only detected 64 per cent of Covid positive children.

When children developed symptoms such as new, continuous coughs or changes in taste and smell perceptions that indicate Covid, their detection rates jumped to 72 percent.

But, only half of infected children were detected by the swabs.    

Their findings indicate that LFDs could fail to comply with the requirements of the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and US Food and Drug Administration. 

These bodies all require Covid test kits in order to achieve a minimum success rate around 80 percent.

The Omicron surge is fading out, and there are fears that children returning to school will cause an increase in Covid cases. 

A new study suggests that commonly used lateral flow tests fail to meet UK regulator standards when used on children. The analysis of available data found that even in children with Covid symptoms, the test kits only detected 72 per cent of cases, 8 percentage point slower than the UK regulator's minimum accuracy standards

New research suggests that lateral flow test kits used for children are not compliant with UK regulations. Analysis of all available data revealed that the tests failed to detect Covid symptoms in 72% of children. This is 8 percentage points slower than what the UK regulator requires.

Regular lateral flow tests are a key part of Government efforts to control the spread of Covid in schools. Here Erin Horn takes  a test Outwood Academy in Woodlands, Doncaster in Yorkshire (file image)

The Government’s efforts to stop the spread of Covid among schools are supported by regular lateral flow testing. Here Erin Horn takes  a test Outwood Academy in Woodlands, Doncaster in Yorkshire (file image)

A new analysis suggests lateral flow test kits, like the one pictured, only detect about, 64 per cent of Covid cases in children, well below the UK's regulator minimum standard of 80 per cent success

According to a new analysis, lateral flow testing kits like the one in the picture can detect only 64% of Covid cases. That is far below the UK regulatory minimum of 80 percent success.

Covid cases in children have rocketed up in the few days back at school, with over 240,000 total confirmed or suspected Covid cases, with more children also in isolation. Regular lateral flow tests by students are a key part of Government plans to curb the spread of the virus in schools but a new study has cast the effectiveness of such tests on children into doubt

Covid cases have increased in children in recent days. In total, there are more than 240,000 Covid confirmed cases or suspected cases. Students are required to perform lateral flow testing regularly as part of government plans to stop the spread of the virus at schools. However, a recent study shows that such tests have not been effective in preventing the spread of the disease among children.

What is a quick lateral flow test?

For people without Covid symptoms such as high temperatures, coughs, or loss of smell or taste, rapid lateral flow testing is recommended. 

This device is similar to a pregnancy tester and gives a rapid result. 

A PCR test should be done on anyone with Covid symptoms.

The NHS recommends that you do a quick lateral flow test before doing any other tests. 

  • Do not eat, drink or smoke 30 minutes prior to the test. This could affect your result
  • Take the time to read and understand these instructions 
  • Make sure to clean any surface on which you will be putting your test. 
  • Verify that nothing is missing or damaged from the test kit 
  • The test can be started within 30 minutes of the opening of the test kit  

You may need to perform a throat sample for your test

  • Place the swab in your mouth, and then rub it over your tonsils.
  • Avoid touching your gums, tongue or teeth with the end of the swab.
  • Place the same swab in your nose, about 2.5 cm above or until you feel resistance. 

Only use a nasal swab for your test

  • Place the cotton swab in your nostrils (about 2.5cm up).

Successful completion of the test 

  • Place the tube with the tube end in place of the swab.
  • Place the liquid in the tube on the test strip 
  • In the instructions included with your kit, check how long you have to wait. 
  • You should wait until the instructions for your test kit say. 
  • Check out your final result
  • Report your results on the Government Website

Researchers also stated that only samples from professionals were used in the research and did not include self-testing at home. This would be detrimental to accuracy.

According to the authors, it’s not known if regular LFD testing could help alleviate certain detection issues.

Dr Naomi FujitaRohwerder (Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care in Cologne) was one of the researchers. She said that the results may make it difficult to use LFDs in order to detect Covid cases in young children. 

‘Taking into account test-specific pooled results, no test included in this review fully satisfied the minimum performance requirements as recommended by WHO…the US…or the MHRA in the UK,’ she said. 

“This might affect the intended purpose of wide implementation of testing programmes.”  

Only eight studies were considered by the authors, so some of the other 500+ tests available around the world might be more reliable. 

The new analysis includes 17 studies that were published in 2020, 2021 and 2021. This means they won’t have taken into account Omicron. 

Researchers didn’t offer any explanations for why tests could not detect Covid in children. 

They did not provide a comparable estimate for LFD accuracy in adults, although other studies have shown that this is 72% of all symptomatic cases. However, the UK Government claims the tests capture over 80% of those most likely to be infected. 

LFDs, which are regularly administered to children as part of the UK Government’s effort to prevent the spread of this virus, form a major component of its efforts at reducing the incidence of it amongst the population.

The UK Health Security Agency, UKHSA insists that the kits are still the most effective way to identify Covid in the larger population. 

Ministers have urged Britons to undergo lateral flow testing before they meet others to help reduce the risk of unknowingly spreading the virus to others. 

However, scores of Britons reported that their negative lateral flow test result was only received after they tested positive for PCR. This raised concerns over the accuracy of the kits in detecting Omicron Covid variant Omicron. 

This scrutiny comes along with a change in guidance. People now need only a positive LFD to be self-isolated and no follow-up is required with an accurate PCR test. 

Official data shows that covid rates at schools in England rose by 5% in the first week after the Christmas holidays.

Covid-related reasons saw 315,000 students absent from school on January 6. According to the Department of Education, this represents 3.9% of all students. 

The figure was significantly higher than the December 9th report, which had 236,000 Covid related absences.