To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish his assessment of the predictive (a) value and (b) accuracy of lateral flow tests in English (i) school and (ii) college pupil and student populations.
10 March 2021
Lateral flow device (LFD) tests have been widely and successfully used to detect asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. The speed and convenience of the tests supports the detection of the virus in asymptomatic individuals, who would not otherwise have been tested. LFD tests are approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency for home use. The tests are highly specific, with low chances of false positives. For this reason, we have confidence in the value and accuracy of lateral flow tests.
Those who test positive using an LFD test at home are being asked to self-isolate and take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the positive result. This is a further measure designed to minimise the chance of false positives. We are asking that the family members and close contacts self-isolate to help break the chains of transmission.
Regarding ethics, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) have discussed ethical considerations with regard to testing in a number of forums. The Department for Education has not received separate advice from the DHSC Moral and Ethical Advisory Group, with minutes of meetings of this group found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/moral-and-ethical-advisory-group.