High street chains have started their price war on lateral flow tests (LFTs) as Superdrug announced they'll charge significantly less than Boots.
The health and beauty retailer announced on Wednesday that it will sell a single lateral flow test for £1.99, along with a five pack of tests for £9.79.
Superdrug's prices are much lower than those of high street rival Boots, who will charge £5.99 for one test or a pack of four for £17.
The pricing war comes as people have struggled to order lateral flow tests online amid a scramble for free kits while they are still available.
The number of free tests available each day will be capped to “manage demand” as the government scales back free testing for people in England.
Tests ordered online are only available every three days, when previously people could order a new pack every 24 hours.
The public has been encouraged not to stockpile test packs but since the changes were announced the system has been overwhelmed with people trying to order tests.
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This could include people who have COVID, or those who have been close contacts of confirmed cases.
A message on the government testing portal states: “Sorry, there are no home delivery slots left for rapid lateral flow tests right now.”
It comes as the government was pressed in the House of Lords to reveal how much LFTs might cost when they are no longer free through the NHS as of 1 April.
Minister have given assurances that the price of lateral flow tests in the future would be “monitored” and regulated.
Boris Johnson this week announced the planned removal of all remaining domestic COVID regulations in England – including the end of free universal testing.
Remaining symptomatic testing will be focused on the most vulnerable, with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) set to determine the details.
Johnson rejected the assertion that the end of free testing would add to the looming cost of living crisis in April.
“This change in the testing regime won’t come through for a few weeks to come, by which time we hope and expect the incidence will have further declined,” he said.
“I hope that the impact on people will be minimal.”
Johnson said that the testing system had cost more than £2bn in January alone. Two billion LFTs have been provided across the UK since 2020, according to government figures.