British Pharmaceutical chain, Boots launches 12-minute Covid-19 test for people without symptoms
London, Oct. 26, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Boots, a British health and beauty retailer and pharmacy chain is launching a coronavirus testing service with results in just 12 minutes.
The high-speed test has proved 97 per cent accurate in trials and should be available within a fortnight. But the chain is also offering a 48-hour service from today, Monday 26, October 2020 and hopes 200 branches will offer tests by Christmas.
The tests are aimed at those who have no symptoms but are seeking peace of mind. Anyone who suspects they have Covid-19 is advised to go to an NHS testing station.
Chief executive Sebastian James told Daily Mail that it was the first step toward mass testing on high streets and a way to allow Britons to get on with their lives again. Boots will initially charge £120 but this is likely to fall if demand grows.
Boots has bought 100 portable devices from US diagnostics firm Lumira that can give a verdict on a swab almost immediately.
They will be distributed to stores over the next few weeks.
Initial customers are expected to be travellers and companies seeking to bring staff back on to their premises.
The tests could allow people to travel, to mix with friends and family and to return to offices that have been all but deserted.
Mr James said: ‘We don’t want to make a profit out of it. We are just covering our costs as there is a big upfront outlay for all the kit.
My thinking is that if the volume is large we will be able to bring the price down. I’m hoping lots of people will want to do it and if they do, then we can make the price more accessible.
‘We believe we are the cheapest private test. We think it is pretty good value compared to others on the high street, which range from £270 at the very expensive end to about £150 in online clinics.
Once it becomes more accessible in terms of cost it could be a very important weapon in the armoury against Covid.’ The £120 fees covers third party laboratory testing, courier services, digital services, staff wages and VAT.
Boots is also installing consultation rooms.
From this week the tests will be offered in ten stores in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Fifty branches will be added in November with up to 200 by the end of the year if there is enough demand.
Customers can book through an online app. Tests are administered by trained staff in private rooms in a local store. The company believes that the service will ease pressure on NHS and government testing programmes.
Boots has been hard hit by the pandemic, with a sharp decline in sales and 4,000 job losses planned among its 54,000 UK staff.
Online business is growing rapidly however. Mr James is expanding healthcare services on the web and has been revamping stores, bringing in beauty brands such as singer Rihanna’s Fenty.