Teenagers have been using TikTok to share hacks for faking positive Covid-19 tests in an effort to force their ‘bubbles’ to miss time at school.
Pupils have been posting clips of themselves adding various liquids to lateral flow tests, with the videos racking up millions of views on the app.
Lemon juice and fizzy drinks
Lemon juice and fizzy drinks are among the substances that have been used to get a positive test result, along with cough medicine, hand sanitiser, kiwi fruit, apple sauce and vinegar.
One TikTok account, which appears to belong to a British teenager, features several videos showing various liquids being used on the rapid tests, including Calpol cough medicine, lemon juice, orange juice, Lynx deodorant and Dior aftershave on rapid antigen tests.
The videos have then been uploaded to the popular app with the hashtag #fakecovidtest, with many users adding comments with other suggestions.
Some clips have been viewed more than 6.5 million times, while the dedicated account @.fakecovidtests has gained more than 20,000 followers. Although this account now appears to have been removed.
Independent fact checkers, Full Fact, have previously told how fizzy drinks and acidic fruits can trigger what looks like a positive result, but stressed that the rapid tests rarely produce false positives when used properly on humans.
Education leaders have condemned the practice as “massively unhelpful” as schools have already faced a disruptive year with ongoing outbreaks and restrictions.
General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton, told the i: “We are sure this involves a very small minority of pupils, and that for the most part the tests are used correctly.
“However, we would urge parents to ensure that tests are not being misused, and we would suggest to pupils who are interested in chemical reactions that the best place to learn about them is in chemistry lessons in school.”
Despite efforts to get a positive test, many TikTok users noted that pupils’ positive lateral flow tests are required to be followed by a PCR test.
In response to the videos, a TikTok spokesperson said: “Our community guidelines make clear that we remove content which includes misleading information that causes harm, including medical misinformation related to Covid-19, and anti-vaccine disinformation more broadly.
“Since the start of the pandemic, we have worked to provide our community with access to trusted information, and through our partnership with Team Halo, scientists from all over the world have shared how vaccinations are created and tested for safety.”
School bubbles ‘to be scrapped’
School bubbles could be scrapped altogether on 19 July as part of the final stage of lifting lockdown restrictions in England, the Education Secretary has suggested.
Gavin Williamson is working with Health Secretary Sajid Javid to take the next steps, saying he believes pupils “would not be facing” bubble arrangements in September.
Labour warned data showed 375,000 children were out of school the school week from 21 June, as a result of Covid
Mr Williamson said he wants to end regular Covid testing for schoolchildren “at the earliest and most realistic possible stage”, although acknowledged this was a long-term aim.
The Prime Minister said he understands the “frustration” over entire bubbles being sent home from school to isolate, but said the Public Health England review into favouring testing over isolation is still under way.
He explained: “They haven’t concluded yet so what I want to do is just to be cautious as we go forward to that natural firebreak of the summer holidays when the risk in schools will greatly diminish and just ask people to be a little bit patient”.