New research has found that lateral flow tests do not provide accurate results all of the time.

During the pandemic, lateral flow tests have been made available to the public so they can check whether or not they are infected with COVID-19, with the tests providing results in under 30 minutes.

Latest research exploring the accuracy of lateral flow tests have found that among those presenting symptoms of coronavirus, the rapid tests are only 72% accurate at diagnosing people correctly.

Among those testing with no symptoms, lateral flow tests were found to be only 58% accurate at diagnosing people with the virus.

These findings reveal that lateral flow tests are not always reliable testing devices and that PCR tests should be taken to confirm results.

However, the specificity of the lateral flow tests is found to be 99% accurate, making false positives more unlikely.

Lead researcher Professor Adam Finn said: “If they come up positive that means you are potentially infectious to others and must self-isolate.

“They are not ‘green light’ tests: you cannot be sure that if the test is negative you are not infectious, and you must continue to take the usual precautions.”

Lower cases of COVID-19 can increase the number of false positives as less people will be receiving actual positives.

Government officials are advising people to take two lateral flow tests per week to stop COVID-19 cases rising.

Lateral flow tests are available to the public and can be ordered online for free.

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