Why the 12-minute Boots Covid test might not be a game-changer

Some people have been attaching the phrase 'game-changer' to the news Boots is going to start selling a Covid-19 test that can give results in 12 minutes.

I have to admit that I don't think the test, on the face of it, will be anywhere near a game-changer.

The test will be on sale for £120, it's a nasal swab and is done by a pharmacist. A LumiraDx device will then process the result and the customer can either get on with their day or go home and isolate, depending on the result.

There are however a lot of ifs and buts attached to this.

Here are the positive things about this test - it will tell you there and then whether you have coronavirus or not and it will tell you while you wait.

You can therefore attend a meeting or go and see an elderly relative within hours of the result, so in that sense it's very reassuring.

Drive-in centres will still be vert important. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA

But there are lots of problems with this. It is designed for asymptomatic people, Boots quite obviously doesn't want symptomatic customers crowding into their stores trying to get tested.

Those tests are for the government drive-ins or home testing kits.

There is no real information on how effective these tests are for people without symptoms, so it may well give out false positives.

Plus, a negative result is only trustworthy for a number of hours. Given the incubation period for the virus, it is quite possible that a person can test negative and then be positive the following day.

So, a negative result is only useful for a very short period of time. The 12 minute result is not valid for international travel; for that, the customer would have to wait for the second part of the test (the PCR test) to be sent away and wait for the result in 48 hours.

Only then can they use the result to travel. The other obvious problem is that it's expensive, £120 is only affordable to very few people. I'm not saying that this is pointless, in some instances it could be very useful, but it's usefulness is limited and I think it's important to point that out.