Rapid Covid Test

Supermarkets have been asked to help bail out the government’s creaking Covid testing supply chain after tens of thousands of Brits were left unable to order supplies of lateral flow kits because of logistical issues.

The Grocer understands talks have been held with retail bosses about whether space could be made available in stores, or car parks.

It comes as health secretary Sajid Javid also confirmed the government had been in talks with online giant Amazon to try to boost supplies after the government admitted it did not have adequate logistics to cope with demand for the kits.

The crisis emerged as fully vaccinated people in England who are close contacts of Covid cases were told to take daily lateral flow tests for seven days as from today to slow the rise of cases.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, people have been advised to take lateral flow tests every time they go out of the house to meet people, but again the supply chain has not been able to cope with subsequent demand.

The Grocer has learnt that grocery retailers were approached for assistance with the distribution even though a source said providing space in stores would be “extremely challenging”.

Javid told MPs that “new arrangements” had been reached with companies, including Amazon, to ensure tests get delivered.

“There is no shortage of actual tests that are held by UKHSA. There are tens of millions of tests. The issue – the limiting factor because of the hugely increased demand – is the ability to deliver the tests and having enough capability to deliver the tests because the current arrangements with Royal Mail alone are not enough.”