Every positive quick-result test of a school pupil in the UK should be checked with a PCR test to ensure it was accurate, a member of the Royal Statistical Society has suggested.
Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about the likelihood of a false positive reading from a lateral flow test, Prof Sheila Bird said:
Very likely. In the present circumstances, when infection incidence is low, the false positive rate with lateral flow tests remains to be absolutely determined in the context of schools but may be between one and three per 1,000 children.
So, to differentiate a false positive from a true positive, is to do that PCR confirmation.
Bird said the recommendation to ask school pupils to produce tests twice a week when they return to classrooms should be reviewed to ensure consent is continued.
The Royal Statistical Society warns that pupils and families’ willingness to take part is likely to decrease over time.
There is initial interest and curiosity, but twice a week is a big ask of children and families, and the additional benefit from doing this twice a week versus once a week is modest and it has to be offset against the implications for the consent rate and the willingness to continue to do it.