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Boots to offer 12-minute Covid testing service within weeks | Business

Boots is to offer a coronavirus testing service it says can return results from swab tests in only 12 minutes.

The pharmacy chain said the LumiraDx devices, which are able to quickly process swab tests to give customers same-day results, would be rolled out in selected stores over the next few weeks.

The price will be £120, which Boots said would make it one of the cheapest private Covid-19 tests available on the market. A spokesman for the retailer said the price could drop depending on demand.

The rapid test will not be authorised as a pre-flight test for customers who require one before travelling because the results will be processed through an in-store machine rather than a registered laboratory.

However, a separate 48-hour testing service launched by Boots will be eligible as a pre-flight service. It is already available in 10 stores in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow, with plans to extend the programme to more than 50 outlets across the UK. It also costs £120.

However, Julian Peto, a professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the price tag attached to the new Boots rapid tests was “exorbitant”.

He told the Guardian: “The Abbott rapid antigen test, which seems similar to the LumiraDx test that Boots is offering, was purchased wholesale by the US government at $5 [£3.84] per test … Five dollars was the cost of the test consumables and doesn’t include the cost of the machine and the operator’s time, but £120 per test seems exorbitant.”

Boots declined to comment on the wholesale price of the test and machines it had bought from the UK-headquartered firm LumiraDx.

Customers who are not displaying Covid-19 symptoms will be able to book an in-store test through the company’s website, Boots.com. Those with symptoms or who suspect they have the virus are asked not to come in store and instead stay at home and follow government guidance on isolation.

Seb James, Boots’ UK managing director, said the programme was being implemented as a way to help ease the pressure on the nation’s health services.

“Boots has supported the government’s Covid-19 testing programme from the very start and offering this new in-store service is the next step in our efforts to fight against the pandemic,” he said.

“We hope that by offering this testing option in local community stores, Boots can help ease pressure on the NHS and the government by providing additional access to testing and crucial reassurances for people across the UK.”

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The Boots testing launch comes almost a week after the UK’s first pre-departure testing facility opened in Heathrow last Tuesday.

Passengers flying from London Heathrow to Hong Kong are able to have a rapid Covid-19 test at the airport before checking in, at Terminals 2 and 5. The tests, which must be booked, cost £80 and results are available within an hour.

The so-called Lamp – or loop-mediated isothermal amplification – test used at Heathrow uses a throat and nose swab but also differs from the longer PCR test, which is used by the NHS, because it is processed without being sent to a laboratory.

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