Omicron: Expert reveals when lateral flow tests should be taken for accurate results

This is why your lateral flow test results may not be as accurate as you think.

LFT results
© Annie Spratt/UNSPLASH
LFT results

The United Kingdom has been crumbling under the grip of the Omicron variant. In just 24 hours, over 12,000 new cases linked to this particular strain have been reported in the country.

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The urgency of the matter has forced government authorities to mull over the possibility of reintroducing restrictions in the next couple of weeks. But in the meantime, they’re vehemently encouraging everyone to get vaccinated and also get tested if they’re going to be in a ‘high-risk situation.’

Lateral flow tests

Over the course of the pandemic, the British government has heavily relied on the use of lateral flow tests (LFT). They’re hoping to do the same with the Omicron variant as well, but experts have observed that the results displayed by LFTs are ‘expiring’ quicker than with previous strains.

Professor Irene Petersen of University College London told The Sunday Telegraph:

We're seeing so many examples now where people have taken a test a day before and then when they take one the day after they are positive.
Omicron is very, very fast, so the test result expires very quickly. It is hours that we are talking about now.

When to take an LFT

Infectious disease epidemiologist, Billy Quilty, believes that the tests should be taken right before attending gatherings. He reached this conclusion after conducting an experiment of his own using LFTs.

According to The Sun, he took four tests in the span of 24 hours—the first two, which were taken in the morning and afternoon, revealed negative results. The third test, which he took the same night, showed a faint positive line, and the last test which he took the next morning was a confirmed positive. He said:

A demo of how fast you can turn positive. Do LFTs *just* before meeting up.
Omicron: Throat swabs lateral flow tests could be more accurate Omicron: Throat swabs lateral flow tests could be more accurate