Test express: Boots to offer a 12-minute Covid swab service

Boots is the first High Street pharmacy to announce that it’s running a Covid test service, with results available in 12 minutes. Here’s everything you need to know. 

With Covid-19 rates rising across the UK and the Test and Trace system recording its worst week on record, we urgently need a solution for tracking who has the virus – whether or not they have symptoms.

It’s an ongoing struggle: and now High Street pharmacy Boots has thrown its hat into the ring, with the offer of an in-store Covid testing service that will turn results around in the space of 12 minutes. 

The catch, however, is that it’ll cost a whopping £120 a go. Here’s everything you need to know about the new express service:

How does the new Boots Covid test work? 

The test will be available as a nasal and throat swab conducted in-store by trained members of staff. 

How accurate is the High Street Covid test? 

In trials on more than 500 patients, the test accurately detected the virus in more than 97% of cases.

How long do Covid test results take? 

Initially the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test will be sent off to a lab with results due via email in 48 hours. In some stores, the test will also be available via a device designed by medical technology company LumiraDx, which can provide results in just 12 minutes. This technology is expected to be available at Boots in the next few weeks.

How much does the Boots Covid test cost?

It’s a formidable £120 per test, which Boots says reflects the cost of lab testing, product materials, courier service, digital solution, staffing and VAT. It is currently “one of the cheapest private COVID-19 tests available on the market,” it says.

Who is the in-store Covid test for?

Boots says it is primarily a private pre-flight testing service for customers who require a test before travelling abroad (if you test negative, you’ll get a certificate showing that fact). However, it’s also available for anyone who “would prefer peace of mind before seeing friends and family”.

Naturally, the service is not suitable for anyone with symptoms of Covid-19, including those with household members or bubble groups who may have symptoms.

Where can I get a High Street Covid test?

The Boots service is already available on a pilot basis in ten stores located in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. In coming weeks, it will be rolled out to 50 other stores, and depending on demand, it may expand to 200 Boots stores in total. Check locally to see your nearest store for testing. 

How do I book a Boots Covid test?

To get a test, customers need to fill out an online registration form and follow instructions to book an in-store slot. 

What are people saying about the new Covid test?

The reaction on Twitter is mixed: some people are saying it’s a way of being able to travel prior to Christmas;  others are shocked about the price and the unfairness of having to pay for a test which everyone needs access to.

You can book a Boots Covid test online here.

Images: Boots/ Matt Howells

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