Omicron: Biologist explains why you could be doing your lateral flow test wrong 4 months ago

Omicron: Biologist explains why you could be doing your lateral flow test wrong

It's a crucial part of the test

A biologist has explained how some people may be missing a crucial step of their lateral flow test and how important this is in detecting Omicron.


While many at-home lateral flow test kits advise that users only take a nasal swab, UCL Cell Biologist Jennifer Rohn has urged people displaying symptoms associated with the Omicron variant to swab the back of their throat as well.

In a tweet showing her positive test, Prof Rohn wrote: "Well, there it is. Today, with the 'wrong' (i.e. cold) symptoms and after a string of negative LFTs, I finally took Twitter advice and swabbed my throat as well as my nose (no mean feat with that diddly stick).

"If you think you might have covid, consider adding the throat sample."


This involves swabbing your tonsils with the same cotton swab used to take a sample from your nose.

Previous testing kits provided by the NHS advise users to take both nasal and throat swabs but the current FlowFlex rapid tests advise only a nasal swab.

Harvard epidemiology professor Dr Michael Mina echoed the importance of doing a throat swab and how they can be crucial in detecting Omicron.


He tweeted: "Symptoms are starting v early w Omicron (for a number of reasons I’ve discussed). This means that there is a chance the virus isn't yet growing in the nose when you first test.

"Virus may start further down. Throat swab + nasal may improve chances a swab picks up virus."


There are concerns over the supplies of lateral flow tests at pharmacies across the UK though.

After the change in self-isolation rules allowed people with covid in England to end isolation after seven days if they test negative, demand for lateral flow tests has soared.

The Association Of Independent Multiple Pharmacies said staff and customers were stressed over the lack of supply, the BBC reports.