Published: 18:22 EDT, 25 October 2020 | Updated: 19:36 EDT, 25 October 2020

At the risk of tempting fate, I haven’t felt the need to take a Covid test during the pandemic and have been very thankful for it. The thought of possibly having to drive to a faraway location and wait in a long queue is extremely offputting.

Popping into my local Boots to do a pre-booked test is an entirely different proposition, though. And, as the first reporter to see the chain’s 12-minute Covid-testing device, I was about to do just that.

Having recently been for a flu jab at Boots, the process was quite similar. First, I was ushered into a private room of the flagship Oxford Street store. 

Business editor Ruth Sunderland (pictured) is the first reporter to see the chain’s 12-minute Covid-testing device. She took the PCR one that is widely used in the NHS

The high-speed test (pictured) has proved 97 per cent accurate in trials and should be available within a fortnight

I was here to try out the testing service that will be on offer from Boots: I took the PCR one that is widely used in the NHS and saw for myself the new 12-minute wonder machine, writes RUTH SUNDERLAND

The female staff member carrying out my test was clad in PPE, with a mask, apron and face visor, and the environment was spotless. I was here to try out the testing service that will be on offer from Boots: I took the PCR one that is widely used in the NHS and saw for myself the new 12-minute wonder machine.

She took swabs from the back of my throat and my nostrils for the PCR test, a process that was mildly uncomfortable but not painful. My details were noted down for the results to be sent out to me by email in 48 hours. As for the new 12-minute test, the machine was far more compact than I had imagined: barely larger than a card reader.

Taking a nasal swab, prepping the sample and inserting it into the machine takes around a minute. The operator puts your details in on the screen, rather like using a smart phone, then opens a little door at the front of the device and inserts a test strip. The machine heats up the strip, and when it has cooked enough, prompts the tester to apply the sample from the swab.

Boots will initially charge £120 for the test (pictured) but this is likely to fall if demand grows

When it is completed, the result shows on the screen. Voila! Is it worth £120? Well, that’s a lot of money in anyone’s book. But if it reassured me it was safe to visit my parents 350 miles away, who I haven’t seen for several months, I would certainly be prepared to pay. And if I were going on a big trip overseas, I might take the Boots option.

If I were an employer, I might think it a good idea to test my staff before bringing them back into a Covid-safe office environment.

But if affordable mass testing really does become available on the high street, then it could be a genuine leap forward, helping us to get back to work, travel and socialising with much less fear. 

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Boots, Coronavirus, Health Care

World news – GB – RUTH SUNDERLAND: This swab for coronavirus can provide peace of mind

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