England is to begin offering free rapid COVID-19 testing twice a week, NPR reports. It adds, though, that critics say such rapid testing has too high a false positive rate.
According to BBC News, lateral flow-based testing for COVID-19, which can provide a result in about half an hour, will be made available not only at testing sites, but also at pharmacies and through the mail. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says rapid testing in combination with vaccination efforts will help with the plan to ease pandemic-related restrictions there.
"[A]s we reopen society and resume parts of life we have all dearly missed, regular rapid testing is going to be fundamental in helping us quickly spot positive cases and squash any outbreaks," Health Secretary Matt Hancock says in a statement.
But as BBC News reports, critics note that when case rates are low, it can be difficult to distinguish between true and false positives on rapid tests and will lead to people having to self-isolate unnecessarily. Allyson Pollock, professor of public health at Newcastle University, tells the BBC that the mass-testing program is a "scandalous waste of money" and "is going to do more harm than good."