THE Royal Borough’s health chief ensures rapid Covid-19 tests are safe as conspiracy theorists continue to spread misinformation on social media. 

Conspiracy theorists have been spreading myths that lateral flow tests are unsafe and are causing cancer because the swabs are sterilised with ethylene oxide.

Lateral flow tests have been rolled out across the UK, including in schools, to test asymptomatic people, those who don’t show Covid-19 symptoms, and a result is usually given in 30-minutes.

While overexposure to large amounts ethylene oxide can be dangerous, a small amount is used for sterilisation, like any other medical devices, to ensure infections do not spread and does not make lateral flow tests unsafe.

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The independent UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, confirmed ethylene oxide is a highly controlled and safe method of sterilisation, which is assessed and evaluated through the sterilisation process to ensure it meets agreed safety standards.

Councillor Stuart Carroll, lead member for health and social care, as well as being an epidemiologist and on the UK’s vaccine task force, said social media giants, such as Facebook, as well as the public need to continue to stamp out misinformation like this as it can be “very, very dangerous” to public health.

He said: “I think the evidence around lateral flow tests is prudent that the specificity and sensitivity of the tests are very high and very good at detecting what we call viral load – which is a benchmark for not just someone being positive, but also the ability for someone to transmit and the infectiousness on the individual.

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“So testing is a vital weapon in our wider arsenal to fight coronavirus and it is important that people do get tested where appropriate and where needed because although we are doing extremely well with our vaccination campaign, and that’s our vanguard intervention, testing does have a significant role to play in terms of curtailing if not stopping transmission itself.”