Britons have been rushing to find lateral flow after their home deliveries were halted. Despite millions of people being encouraged to do so, the desperate search for them has prompted many to move from one pharmacy to another.

Omicron has been rising fast in the areas of London, and many people living there, such as Lambeth. They say they can’t find them even though the Government insists on using them. 

Also, the availability of PCR tests in certain areas has been limited. Daily covid cases have remained at close to 100,000.  

One critic tweeted: ‘So all of our pharmacies have run out of lateral flow tests and the website just says they’ve run out of home delivery slots so how does BoZo intend for people to take a test before visiting loved ones? This seems to be another instance of “a lot of words and no real plan.”

One test hunter tweeted: ‘Boris Johnson – perhaps you can tell me how anyone can test when chemists and NHS don’t have lateral flow tests available’. 

One other wrote, “Almost impossible to obtain any lateral flow testing. Home delivery never arrived. Because they don’t have any stock, the collection code received from the chemist proved futile. What are the best ways to check for regularity?

After a modification in the isolation rules, close to 300,000. people who were infected by coronavirus faced Christmas isolation. They were then told that they could now enjoy festive festivities with their family.

Today’s announcement by health officials was that anyone who tests positive for Covid may be released within seven days instead of 10, provided they complete two lateral flow testing at the end. 

However, there is a lack of lateral flow. [LFTs]Many people may have difficulty finding the test they require online and at pharmacies in order to be released from isolation on Christmas Day. 

The great hunt for LFTs has led to some people visiting eight pharmacies a day – but many across Britain are running out of lateral flow tests amid a supply chain crisis following a huge scramble by people to get hold of kits before Christmas.

A chemist in Elephant and Castle in South London, an area where Omicron cases are at their highest, has run out of lateral flow tests according to this sign in the window on December 17

The sign on the window from December 17 indicates that an Elephant and Castle chemist, in South London where Omicron cases occur at their highest level, had run out of lateral flow test results.

More than 11million test kits were sent out to pharmacies last week – double the number in the previous week – but this was not enough as many Britons are taking to social media to complain they still cannot not find a pack anywhere locally.

Some pharmacies put signs at their locations stating they were temporarily out-of stock. People have struggled to order online tests.

This ‘unprecedented demand’ has been further intensified by those who want to test themselves before visiting or staying with their relatives during Christmas. 

There are plenty of slots in the UK that can be used for PCR testing for people who have positive lateral flows. 

Is it possible to obtain lateral flow tests from the laboratory? 

There is a search tool that the NHS provides to help people find nearby pharmacies offering test collection. It is:

People can also order a pack to be delivered directly to their home. You can order one pack per day.

You can collect them from the community collection point or you can go to a test site near your home.

This comes just seven days after the Government declared that all fully vaccinated people with positive tests would not need to isolate themselves. Instead, they will be able to take a lateral flow exam each day for seven consecutive days.

The Government website stated that they are ‘not currently available’ due to a huge demand following the Boris Johnson statement.

Experts in health have been discussing the best time for the test, as results can quickly change between positive and negative within hours.

According to UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), pharmacy workers across England have received record numbers of lateral flow test results during the week ending December 13.

The ‘Covid-19-lateral flow device distribution services’ were offered by contractors, according to reports in the Pharmaceutical Journal.

Pharmacy leaders stated that ‘numerous contractors warned’ on December 14th that the supply of kits to pharmacies was not sufficient to meet public demand.

However, the UKHSA stated Monday that there were ‘over 1 million test kits. [were]sent to all pharmacies in the UK” during the week beginning December 13, and stated that the supply chain problem ‘is being solved and normal service will be resumed shortly.

The spokesperson added that there is no shortage in rapid testing and that many people have the ability to get these tests free of charge. This will help fight Covid-19’s spread.

Alliance Healthcare’s Sunday update to the Pharmaceutical Journal stated that there is a continuing unprecedented demand to have lateral flow tests kits for people who are testing positive for the Omicron variant. This was in addition to precautionary testing prior to Christmas.

People reported last week that they couldn’t order lateral flow test on the NHS site. However, pharmacies posted posters saying they were out of stock.

People who tried to book walk in PCR testing also had problems. Some were directed to other sites or told that there weren’t any slots available.

UKHSA chief executive Dr Jenny Harries has dismissed suggestions of a shortage and stated that requests for lateral flow testing ‘have been absolutely amazing’ with ‘unprecedented’ demand for PCR tests.

What accuracy are the lateral flow tests?

In July, a study published by Queen Mary University of London and Oxford, as well as the Institute for Advanced Studies based at Vienna and the Medical University of Graz, found that lateral flow testing correctly identified 89 percent of negative cases.

The Royal College of Pathologists stated that positive LFT results should be confirmed with PCR tests. People should also self-isolate their specimens before receiving their PCR results.

The Health Security Agency (HSA), last week stated that lateral flow tests can detect Omicron just as well as any other coronavirus variants.

Although PCR tests remain the best tests for diagnosing coronavirus, they should not be used if you are experiencing symptoms.


Sir Chris Wormald is the permanent secretary of the Department of Health and Social Care. He stated that getting test results laid out with distribution was more important than their availability.

The Trade Association for Large Pharmacy Operators in England and Wales (The Company Chemists’ Association, or CCA), said that demand exceeded supply in certain areas.

Malcolm Harrison, Chief Executive of CCA said that although members continue receiving supplies of lateral flows tests, it is becoming increasingly difficult for some to access them.

“Pharmacies manage the demand as best they can, and we encourage members of the general public to have patience during this difficult time for all.”

Boots spokeswoman said they offer lateral flow tests in more than 2100 UK pharmacies. However, ‘there might be a few stores that experience temporary shortages due higher demand from certain areas.

Lloyd’s Pharmacy stated that tests are available, but there is a’significant need’. 

There are currently no problems ordering test on the government’s website.

The rapid test that determines if someone has coronavirus is the lateral flow or antigen tests.

By detecting the proteins of the virus in throat or nose samples, lateral flow testing can provide quick results.

There are many opinions among scientists about their accuracy. Although PCR tests have a high accuracy, they can take three days for the results to be available. 

These tests detect genetic material of a particular organism (coronavirus) and can be used to determine if there is a current infection.

People who don’t have symptoms of a condition should take lateral flow tests according to the Royal College of Pathologists.

According to the RCP website, these tests differ from PCR. The tests cannot be used to diagnose individual patients suspected of being infected if they present with symptoms.

A PCR test is required for people with symptoms. To detect additional cases of infection, lateral flow tests can be used.

The NHS website also states that coronavirus symptoms should be confirmed by a lateral flow rather than PCR testing.

People have also been struggling to order lateral flow tests online (pictured on December 13). Currently, there are no issues with ordering tests on the Government's website

Online ordering of lateral flow test has been a problem for many (pictured December 13, 2013). There are currently no problems ordering test online.

According to the current guidance, if you have a positive lateral test you need to follow-up with a PCR.

Before mixing in with others indoors or seeing someone at risk for getting Covid-19, it is a good idea to perform lateral flow testing.

A lateral flow test is recommended if someone has tested positive for coronavirus after you are vaccinated.

Irene Petersen is a Professor of Epidemiology at University College London. She stated that Omicron’s rapid infection rate meant people need to take tests before meeting others.

The results of tests can be discarded quickly, as individuals may become infected or non-infectious within hours.

Current government guidance recommends that you take a test “if your situation is high-risk”

BBC Breakfast host Stephen Reicher stated this week on BBC Breakfast that people need to do lateral flow testing before they meet up with family and friends for Christmas.