High street pharmacy chain Boots is set to offer a coronavirus (COVID-19) testing service it says can return results from nasal swab tests in only 12 minutes.
Following approval of the test and the device needed to process it by authorities in Europe and the US, the nasal swab test will be available in more than 50 Boots stores up and down the country to anyone who is not showing symptoms.
In trials on more than 500 patients, the test accurately detected the virus in more than 97% of cases.
The technology has been developed by UK-based life sciences company LumiraDx, and the test – which detects the presence of a COVID-19 antigen protein – is said to be considerably faster than other rapid tests that are currently being trialled, which produce results in an average time of 90 minutes.
The equipment device used to carry out the test also connects to a cloud system, which is being touted as potentially allowing for speedy tracking of disease outbreaks by health authorities.
The test will cost £120 – which Boots said would make it one of the cheapest private COVID-19 tests currently available on the market in the UK – and is expected to launch within weeks.
A test booking service will be available online.
The service is available as a private pre-flight test for customers who require one before travelling abroad, or as a solution for those who would prefer peace of mind before seeing friends and family.
Depending on demand and feedback, the launch of the service may extend to 200 stores over the coming months.
Boots has also launched a 48-hour testing service that is available in 10 stores across London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow, with plans to extend the programme to more than 50 outlets across the nation.
Seb James – Managing Director at Boots UK – said the programme was being implemented as a way to help ease the pressure on the nation’s health services. He said: “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,”
“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.
“As part of the UK high street for over 170 years, Boots is proud to serve on the frontline alongside the NHS and we will continue to do our part to support the nation’s healthcare needs during this challenging time and beyond.”