Covid PCR tests: at least 43,000 in UK may have had false negatives

The UK Health Security Agency said that at least 43,000 people could have been incorrectly given negative Covid test results. It announced the suspension of operations at Wolverhampton's privately owned lab.
The UKHSA stated that the NHS test and trace had been suspended by Immensa Health Clinic Ltd at their laboratory in Wolverhampton.

This decision was made after an investigation into negative PCR results for people who had previously tested positive on a lateralflow device.

The NHS trace and test reported that about 400,000 samples were processed by the lab. Although the majority will be negative, an estimated 43,000 people could have received incorrect negative PCR results between 8 September - 12 October. Most of these people are located in south-west England.

The NHS trace and test is used to contact people who could still be infected to inform them to get another test.

Although the UKHSA claimed that it was an isolated incident attributable to one laboratory, all samples are being redirected to another laboratory.

Dr Will Welfare, UKHSA's public health incident director, stated that there is no evidence of any flaws in LFD or PCR tests kits and the public should continue to use them as well as other services currently offered by the laboratory.

After false negatives were found in PCR tests performed at a Berkshire government-run facility, the public was urged to book additional testing.

The West Berkshire Council stated in a statement that some of the results from the Newbury Showground testing site operated by the Department of Health and Social Care have been sent out and may have shown negative results for Covid-19.

It said: We received reports from residents over the past weeks that they were concerned about the accuracy and reliability of the test results at the site. These concerns were passed on to the DHSC for further investigation.

The DHSC now confirms that this issue may have affected a number sites across the country, including Newbury Showground.

The local authority strongly encouraged people who received a negative result from a PCR test between three and twelve October as well as close friends to get another test.

Graham Bridgman, Councillor, stated: Testing is important as we learn how to live with Covid. Anyone who has symptoms or has come in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid should immediately book a PCR test. We strongly recommend that the public undergo lateral flow testing twice weekly.

We have reached out to the DHSC for comments.