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Strep A home-test kits sell out after spate of UK deaths sparks panic buying

Strep A home-testing kits have sold out online as parents rush to find ways to diagnose their children’s rashes and high temperatures.

The panic-buying follows the deaths of at least 16 children from invasive strep A infections in the UK.

As infections and deaths from strep A have risen over the past few weeks, parents have turned to tests that involve a long cotton swab that is lightly passed over the back of the throat. Solutions and a strip test are then used to display results.

These tests are now being sold online for more than £100, while some retailers have reported selling out after demand soared over the past few days. Other suppliers have warned customers that they will not be able to get hold of a test until after Christmas. One online retailer told customers that they would not be able to get the products until mid-January. Others said they were awaiting deliveries but “there may be delays beyond our control”.

Strep A tests are not sold in England through the NHS because the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – which approves and advises on clinical care – has said their accuracy is uncertain and likely to be “highly variable”. Scotland has not approved them either, though in Wales people can buy them over the counter for £7.50.

“We’re not advising using those [tests] for the time being,” Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said on Friday. “It is a clinical diagnosis. It is not too difficult to make. So long as the parent watches their child and brings their child in, then we are more than happy to see them.”

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Source: The Guardian, 11 December 2022


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