While lateral flow, or antigen tests, have been widely used to test for Covid infections in schools in the UK, the accuracy of the tests among adults has proven to be variable. But until now, how effective they are at testing for COVID-19 in children was unknown.
And the results do not seem promising.
They showed that lateral flow tests perform below minimum standards set out by health organisations around the world when used on children.
The findings were published in the BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine.
Dr Naomi Fujita-Rohwerder at the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) said: “Taking into account test-specific pooled results, NO TEST included in this review fully satisfied the minimum performance requirements as recommended by WHO, the US Food and Drug Administration or the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK.
“This may affect the planned purpose of the broad implementation of testing programmes.”
The researchers searched through databases for studies published between 2020 and May 2021 which compared the accuracy of lateral flow and swab PCR Covid tests.
They found 17 studies that involved 6355 children and eight different antigen tests from six different brands.
Samples were collected from the throat and nose in 11 of the tests.
But in the others, only nose samples were taken.
To determine how well the tests performed at identifying a positive Covid infection or a negative result, the data was pooled in a process called diagnostic sensitivity or specificity.
The tests’ ability to pick out the children who do not have Covid was 99 percent accurate.
But only 64 percent of positive cases were picked up by the tests.
“Whether this can be compensated for with frequent testing remains a moot point.”
This comes after the Government said lateral flow tests will not always be free for everyone after reports they might be phased out emerged.
Mass Testing of Children is “Harmful, Invasive and Unevidenced” and Needs to Stop, Scientists Tell MPs
The mass testing of healthy children is “invasive and unevidenced”, causes significant damage to children and needs to stop, scientists and clinicians have told MPs and Peers.
The comments came at a meeting of the Pandemic Response and Recovery All-Party Parliamentary Group of cross-party MPs, which was hearing whether there is a case for the continued mass testing of healthy children by schools and nurseries.
Co-chaired by Conservative MP Esther McVey and Labour MP Graham Stringer, the group examined the pros and cons of testing in schools along with the growing concerns about the likely physical and mental health harms caused by constant testing.
Ms McVey said the evidence they heard is clear and “testing in schools must stop”.
We know children are not drivers of transmission. The evidence presented by our experts found no benefits to mass testing. Instead there is disruption, harm and distress caused and two years on we have no robust randomised control trials for the benefits of mass testing of healthy school children.
The evidence we have heard is clear. Testing in schools must stop, especially in the absence of any sort of study on the impact it has on our children’s physical and mental health.
Co-chair Graham Stringer said the “eye-watering sums” spent on testing would have been much better spent elsewhere.
Child and Adolescent Senior Clinical Psychologist Dr. Zenobia Storah described mass testing of healthy children as “harmful, invasive and unevidenced” and “nothing short of state-sponsored child abuse”.
• They are all part of the NONSENSE – The alleged epidemic of national or international scope is nonsense – TG: Government “Criminalises And Patronises” Our Community Over Lateral Flow Tests - #4 by DOTS