Covid-19: Innova Lateral Flow Tests

Health and Social Care – in the House of Commons on 12th January 2021.

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Photo of Neale Hanvey Neale Hanvey Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Health Team Member)

What the evidential basis is for the use of Innova lateral flow tests for covid-19 in the asymptomatic population.

Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

The Innova lateral flow tests for covid-19 identify a substantial proportion of those who are shedding viral load due to their covid-19. We of course identify, analyse and publish the evidential basis for the use of these tests, as with the other tests that are used in the national testing programme.

Photo of Neale Hanvey Neale Hanvey Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Health Team Member)

I would like to thank the Secretary of State for that answer, and I thank him also for his helpful response to my questions in the Select Committee last week. In that spirit, he will know that I have been pursuing the use of lateral flow tests since early November, when concerns were first raised. Unfortunately, some of those concerns continue to persist—not least when they were underscored by a communication from his Department as recently as 11 December, which stated:

“We are not currently planning mass asymptomatic testing;
swab testing people with no symptoms is not an accurate way of screening the general population, as there is a…risk of giving false reassurance. Widespread asymptomatic testing could undermine the value of testing, as there is a risk of giving misleading results.”

Given those ongoing concerns, I would be most grateful if the Secretary of State committed to a meeting to consider those concerns in a bit more detail—

Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

Lateral flow tests are incredibly important to be able to find people who otherwise we would not be able to find. One in three people has this disease without knowing it, and finding those positive cases helps us to break the chains of transmission.