GB News panelists discuss future of lateral flow testing
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Nabila Ramdani announced that people may have to dig into their pockets if they want to take a lateral flow test in future.
The French journalist stressed however that an exception will still be made for people in “high-risk” environments including hospitals, schools and care homes.
Lateral flow tests are put at people’s disposal for free in England but that may soon change.
Ms Ramdani predicted Prime Minister Boris Johnson may soon charge Brits for rapid antigen and lateral flow COVID-19 tests in a bid to prepare the country to get on with the pandemic.
Flanked by presenters Stephen Dixon and Anne Diamond and columnist Ella Whelan on GB News, Ms Ramdani reassured the “most vulnerable” individuals though that nothing will change for them as they can still benefit from free testing whenever they want and at no charge.
She said: “The free lateral test faces the axe under plans of living with COVID-19 which Boris Johnson will announce within weeks.
“But I have to say straightaway that the Government has not confirmed any details and nothing has been decided yet.
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“But yes, it could be that people now have to pay for a lateral flow test.
“But having said that, the story also makes it clear that a lateral flow test will be provided for free to people with symptoms and in high-risk settings such as hospitals, schools and care homes.
“So for the vulnerable people.”
Ms Diamond then switched her attention to journalist and author Ms Whelan, asking her whether people would still bother getting tested if they have to pay for it.
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She revealed that Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi wants to “move on” from Britain’s state of emergency and sow the seeds for a transition from pandemic to endemic.
Responding to Miss Diamond’s question, she said: “This is a question, should people need to?
“Because I think one of the things that the Sunday Times quotes, some comments from Nadhim Zahawi talking about the fact that we need to move from this setting of it being a pandemic and an emergency to the virus being endemic to us talking about it being really focused on the people who need the test most importantly.
“So, care workers or people working on the frontline.
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Revellers hitting the town and having a beer at their local pub may be the worst affected by a potential new decision as they now may have to part with a substantial amount to see whether they are positive or not.
She added: “Your average Joe who is going out to the local pub, do they really need to test? I think that’s the question that the papers are asking.”
With Omicron thought to be more contagious yet a lot milder, a turning point could be reached this year with upbeat scientist Dr Mike Tildesley suggesting that COVID-19 could become less and less severe even if new mutations are to take hold in future.
Dr Tildesley, who is professor of infectious disease modelling at the University of Warwick, describes Omicron as the “first ray of light” and hinted that there may not me deadly viruses in the ilk of Delta in future as future strains will resemble a “common cold”.
He said: “The thing that might happen in the future is you may see the emergence of a new variant that is less severe, and ultimately, in the long term, what happens is COVID becomes endemic and you have a less severe version,
“It’s very similar to the common cold that we’ve lived with for many years. We’re not quite there yet but possibly Omicron is the first ray of light there that suggests that may happen in the longer term. It is, of course, much more transmissible than Delta was, which is concerning, but much less severe.”
“Any variant that does emerge which is less severe, ultimately, in the longer term, is where we want to be,”
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