Lateral Flow Test

Lateral Flow Test   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

There is a shortage of Covid tests. You may have failed to book a pack of seven rapid lateral flow tests (LFTs), and people are struggling to books slots at PCR test centres.

Ask a government minister, and their advice is almost always the same – refresh the website. Even though they know there aren’t enough tests.

The Tories boast that testing capacity is 900,000 a day. That means everyone in Britain can take a Covid test once every two and a half months. Scientists are rightly worried that lack of available tests will encourage people to go to work and about their lives untested, inevitably spreading the virus.

The testing system is privatised. Deals to provide Covid tests in Britain amount to £3.7 billion. Innova, Britain’s biggest supplier of tests, sold £1.9 billion LFTs to the government in the first three months of 2021, no doubt making a hefty profit.

Just four private companies make lateral flow tests for the UK. At the start of the pandemic, then health secretary Matt Hancock said he couldn’t rely on hundreds of laboratories – mainly in the public sector – like counterparts in Germany, without admitting this was a failure of privatisation.

There is a global shortage of all the components needed in Covid tests. And this is part of the capitalist system’s wider failure in dealing with Covid.

Decisions – about what should be produced, what work needs doing, what work can be done at home, and what other safety measures are required – must be taken by the people best placed to make them: the working class looking after their lives and livelihoods, not the bosses and Tories chasing profit.

Ian Pattison, North London Socialist Party