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The ‘£20’ PCR tests that really cost FIVE TIMES more

The ‘£20’ PCR tests that really cost FIVE TIMES more: Tourists buying Covid travel screening kit from ‘cheapest’ firms on Government website face paying far more than amount advertised, research shows

  • Travellers returning to UK from green or amber countries must take a PCR swab 
  • Test kits are being advertised for £20 but can actually cost as much as £99
  • Most of the cut-price offers are either out of stock or only offered in centres
  • Ministers are being urged to end the ‘Wild West’ of test costs for travellers

Holidaymakers buying Covid travel tests from the ‘cheapest’ firms on the Government’s official website face paying up to five times the amount advertised.

Research by the Mail shows the real cost of single-test kits advertised for just £20 on the list can be as much as £99.

Most of the cut-price offers are either out of stock or only offered in centres – meaning many customers would have to travel hundreds of miles.

Of the 12 cheapest firms listed yesterday, all offering £20 single-test ‘self swab at home’ kits, none offered to post them out at that price. Ministers are being urged to end the ‘Wild West’ of test costs for travellers.

Under the traffic-light system for going abroad, double-jabbed people must take a single PCR swab by day two after returning from green or amber countries.

Holidaymakers buying Covid travel tests from the ‘cheapest’ firms on the Government’s official website face paying up to five times the amount advertised (stock photo)

Those not fully vaccinated coming from amber destinations must take an additional test on day eight. To skip quarantine after five days instead of ten they must also take a day five test.

We found testing firm ArrivingUK advertising ‘self swab at home’ day two kits for £20 on the Government portal. But on the firm’s website this was only available to people who could collect them from Wembley in north London. The real cost was £89 plus £10 postage.

Abicare Health was listed at the same low price but its website says this is only available if you can travel to Manchester – and not until November. The real cost for a posted kit is £75.

Everything Genetic Ltd also offered single-test packages for £20 but its website says this price is only available for NHS workers. Otherwise it’s £60.

Research by the Mail shows the real cost of single-test kits advertised for just £20 on the list can be as much as £99 (stock photo)

Research by the Mail shows the real cost of single-test kits advertised for just £20 on the list can be as much as £99 (stock photo)

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘The Government list is not really fit for purpose. Many of the cheapest advertised don’t exist or the advertised prices are impossible or unrealistic to obtain.

‘Many also fail to provide tests and results on time. It’s unacceptable and ridiculous.’

Avi Lasarow, boss of testing firm Project Screen by Prenetics, said a ‘small minority of rogue traders’ were bamboozling travellers. He added: ‘Ministers must really act to end this Wild West of prices.’

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has asked the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate whether travellers are being ripped off or misled.

It came as one vaccine expert said many holidaymakers were paying far more than a ‘fair’ price for gold-standard PCR tests, which are more accurate and can detect mutant strains.

Under the traffic-light system for going abroad, double-jabbed people must take a single PCR swab by day two after returning from green or amber countries

Under the traffic-light system for going abroad, double-jabbed people must take a single PCR swab by day two after returning from green or amber countries

Professor Stephen Bustino, of Anglia Ruskin University, said firms should charge around £20 to cover the cost of ingredients and overheads.

The average price among all the 425 Government-approved provider for a single swab is just over £90 – a cost which pricing many families out of going abroad this summer.

Virginia Messina, of the World Travel & Tourism Council, called on ministers to subsidise PCR tests if they keep insisting on them, or let travellers take cheaper rapid tests.

Everything Genetic agreed ‘many companies are manipulating their price’ but denied it was one of them, saying it had ‘provided quality services to the NHS, private sector and public for nearly five years now’.

A Government spokesman said: ‘The Health and Social Care Secretary has requested advice from the CMA to stamp out any exploitative behaviour.

‘We are also working with the travel industry and private testing providers to further reduce testing costs.’

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