How many people are using lateral flow tests regularly?

Isabelle KirkData Journalist
December 17, 2021, 11:56 AM UTC

As test shortages hit, data shows more than half of Britons are still taking regular tests

With the rise of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19, the government has encouraged anyone who comes into contact with someone testing positive to take a daily lateral flow test for seven days, and to take a test before visiting friends and family.

As a result, demand for lateral flows has skyrocketed, and the official website often runs out of tests.

New YouGov research for The Times reveals that over half of Britons are taking regular lateral flow tests (57%). This includes one in six (18%) who are using lateral flows regularly, irrespective of what plans they have.

One in eight (12%) say they are regularly using lateral flow tests if they have come into contact with someone who may have Covid.

A further 9% say they take a lateral flow test if they’re going into work, although this may be lower because of recent work-from-home guidance, while 8% say they use rapid testing if they’re going to socialise with friends or family and 5% test if they’re going somewhere busy.

Two in five (38%) Britons are not regularly using lateral flow tests for any reason, however.

While 30% of women say they’re not testing regularly, some two in five men (45%) say the same. Similarly, the old are more likely to not be testing than the young, including around half (52%) of those aged over 65, compared to 22% of 18 to 24-year-olds.

Around half (48%) of working class British people say they are not regularly using lateral flow tests, compared to 29% of those from middle class households.

Conservative voters are more likely than Labour voters to say they aren’t using lateral flows, by 44% to 29%.

See full results here