“Only a handful” of coronavirus PCR test results from East Yorkshire were among the up to 43,000 negative results falsely returned from a private lab, a council health official has said.
East Riding Council’s Public Health Director Andy Kingdom said less than 100 false negative results were given to people in Yorkshire and the Humber from the Wolverhampton Immensa Health Clinic lab.
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The director added it meant very few East Riding PCR tests would need to be redone, with most of those affected thought to be from the South West.
It comes as operations at the lab were suspended following an investigation into reports that people who received negative PCR results later tested positive with lateral flow devices (LFDs).
The false negative results are thought to have been sent between Wednesday, September 8 and Tuesday, October 12 while an NHS Test and Trace investigation into the cause continues.
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Mr Kingdom said the impact on testing in the East Riding was “very small”. The director said: “We are following this up but because only a handful of tests from the East Riding were affected it’s unlikely to have led to any outbreaks here.
“If you are among those affected, Test and Trace will contact you directly and talk you through what to do.
“If you’re concerned then I’d advise people who had a PCR tests during the affected time to book another one.
“But the vast majority of people from the East Riding can be confident in the test results they received.”
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The UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) Public Health Incident Director Dr Will Welfare said testing at the lab had been suspended “immediately” pending the Test and Trace investigation’s findings.
Dr Welfare said: “We have recently seen a rising number of positive LFD results subsequently testing negative on PCR.
“As a result of our investigation, we are working with NHS Test and Trace and the company to determine the laboratory technical issues which have led to inaccurate PCR results being issued to people.
“There is no evidence of any faults with LFD or PCR test kits themselves and the public should remain confident in using them and in other laboratory services currently provided.
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“If you get a positive LFD test, it’s important to make sure that you then get a follow up PCR test to confirm you have coronavirus.”
Immensa Health Clinic CEO Andrea Riposati said they did not want the false negatives to “tarnish” the UK’s efforts in combating coronavirus.
Mr Riposati said: “We are fully collaborating with UKHSA on this matter, quality is paramount for us.
“We have proudly analysed more than 2.5m samples for NHS Test and Trace, working closely with the great teams at the Department of Health and Social Care and UKHSA.”