Boots is launching a coronavirus testing service with results in just 12 minutes.
The high-speed test has proven 97 percent accurate in trials and should be available within 14 days. But the chain also offers a 48-hour service starting today and hopes that 200 stores will offer tests by Christmas.
Chief executive Sebastian James said it was the first step towards mass high-street testing and a way to get the Brits moving on with their lives. Boots will initially charge £ 120, but this is likely to drop as demand increases.
The tests are for people who don’t have symptoms, but are looking for peace of mind. Anyone who suspects they have Covid-19 is advised to go to an NHS testing station.
In other developments:
- Another 151 virus deaths were reported yesterday, twice as many as the week before, along with 19,790 cases;
- Hospitals fill up quickly, with 1,142 patients admitted yesterday – the highest daily total since May 7;
- Middle-class workers in commuter towns, beach resorts and manufacturing centers are among the hardest hit, experts say;
- Less than one in six doctors has begun to catch up on NHS treatment backlog caused by lockdown, a BMA survey shows;
- The scientist who led the development of the vaccine at Oxford University said it would likely reach key health professionals and high-risk patients by Christmas;
- Quarantine periods for people in contact with Covid-19 patients can be reduced to seven to 10 days amid reports of widespread non-compliance;
- Hospices still don’t get regular coronavirus tests, meaning the dying can’t see loved ones;
- Wales may need a second ‘firebreak’ lockdown in the new year after critical care numbers soar 57 percent within a week.
Boots launches coronavirus testing service (photo) with results in just 12 minutes
The number of new fatalities on the same day in the week before was about 125 percent
The number of new infections has increased by about 17 percent today
Boots has bought 100 wearable devices from the American diagnostic company Lumira that can give a judgment on a cotton swab almost immediately.
They will be distributed to stores in the coming weeks.
The first customers are expected to be travelers and companies who want to bring staff back to their buildings.
The tests allow people to travel, mingle with friends and family, and return to offices that are virtually deserted.
Mr. James said, “We don’t want to make a profit from it. We only cover our costs as there is a large upfront investment for all equipment.
The high-speed test (shown) has been proven 97 percent accurate in trials and should be available within 14 days. But the chain also offers a 48-hour service starting today and hopes that 200 stores will offer tests by Christmas
‘I think that if the volume is high, we can bring the price down. I hope a lot of people want to do it and if they do we can make the prize more accessible.
‘We think we are the cheapest private test. We think it’s pretty good value compared to others on the high street, which range from £ 270 on the very expensive end to around £ 150 in online clinics.
“Once it becomes more accessible in terms of cost, it could be a very important weapon in the armory against Covid.” The cost of £ 120 includes 3rd party lab tests, courier services, digital services, staff wages and VAT.
Boots also installs consultation rooms.
Starting this week, the tests will be offered in ten stores in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Fifty branches will be added in November, up to 200 by the end of the year if there is sufficient demand.
Customers can book through an online app. Tests are conducted by trained personnel in private rooms at a local store. The company believes the service will ease the pressure on NHS and government testing programs.
Boots will initially charge £ 120 for the test (photo), but this will likely drop as demand increases
It is more expensive than airport service for passengers flying from Heathrow to Hong Kong, who can choose to pay for £ 80 for a quick Covid-19 test.
But airport testing is still not widely available on various routes and passengers are at risk of not being able to board on the day, while a test at Boots could be done in advance. The chain is already conducting tests for passengers traveling to the UAE and is in talks with other airlines.
Boots has been badly affected by the pandemic, with a sharp drop in sales and the planned loss of 4,000 jobs among the 54,000 UK staff.
However, the online business is growing rapidly. Mr. James is expanding healthcare on the Internet and has revamped stores by attracting beauty brands such as singer Rihanna’s Fenty.
Founded in Nottingham in the 19th century and still headquartered there, Boots is now part of a global pharmacy giant, Walgreens Boots Alliance, founded by Italian billionaire Stefano Pessina, 79.
His partner, Ornella Barra, 66, has recently taken charge of operations outside the US, including Boots.
Quick cotton swab that can provide peace of mind (if you have the money)
By Ruth Sunderland, Business Editor for the Daily Mail
With the danger of a tempting fate, during the pandemic, I didn’t feel the need to take a Covid test and I am very grateful for it. The thought of possibly having to drive to a distant location and wait in a long line is extremely unpleasant.
However, popping into my local Boots to take a pre-booked test is a completely different proposition. And as the first reporter to see the chain’s 12-minute Covid test device, I was about to do just that.
After recently having a flu shot with Boots, the process was quite similar. First I was led to a private room of the flagship store on Oxford Street.
Company editor Ruth Sunderland (pictured) is the first reporter to see the chain’s 12-minute Covid test device. She took the PCR version that is widely used in the NHS
The female employee who conducted my test was dressed in PPE, with a mask, apron and face visor, and the area was spotlessly clean. I was here to try out the testing service that Boots will provide: I took the PCR version that is widely used in the NHS and saw for myself the new 12 minute miracle machine.
I was here to try out Boots’ testing service: I took the PCR version widely used in the NHS and saw the new 12 minute wonder machine myself, writes RUTH SUNDERLAND
She took cotton swabs from the back of my throat and nostrils for the PCR test, a process that was slightly uncomfortable but not painful. My details have been noted so that the results are emailed to me within 48 hours. As for the new 12-minute test, the machine was much more compact than I imagined: barely bigger than a card reader.
Taking a nasal swab, preparing the sample and placing it in the machine takes about a minute. The operator puts your data on the screen, just like with a smartphone, then opens a door on the front of the device and inserts a test strip. The machine heats up the strip and when it is cooked enough, the tester will be prompted to apply the swab sample.
When it is completed, the result will be displayed on the screen. Voila! Is it worth £ 120? Well, that’s a lot of money in someone’s book. But if it reassured me that it was safe to visit my parents 350 miles away, who I haven’t seen in a few months, I would certainly be willing to pay. And if I were going on a big trip abroad I might take the Boots option.
If I were an employer, I would think it would be a good idea to test my staff before returning them to a Covid-safe office environment.
Our experience with Covid-19 testing has so far been riddled with disappointment. But if affordable mass testing really does become available on the high street, it could be a real leap forward, allowing us to return to work, travel and socialize with much less anxiety.
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