Teenagers are figuring out how to fake positive Covid tests using lemon juice and hacks from TikTok

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1 July 2021

Education leaders have warned that the practice is ‘massively unhelpful’ as schools already battle to keep education going amid outbreaks

British teenagers are using TikTok to learn and share tips for faking positive Covid-19 tests as hundreds of thousands of pupils in “bubbles” are already being forced to miss school.

Clips of young people applying various liquids to lateral flow tests have racked up millions of views on the popular video app, with many users offering suggestions. 

Videos uploaded under the search term #fakecovidtest have been viewed more than 6.5 million times, with the dedicated account @.fakecovidtests gaining more than 20,000 followers. 

Education leaders have warned that the practice is “massively unhelpful” as schools already battle to keep education going amid outbreaks.

“We are sure this involves a very small minority of pupils, and that for the most part the tests are used correctly,” Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told i.

“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.”

A single video has been viewed more than 2.5m times since it was uploaded on 1 April, while others have received more than 289,000 and 71,000 views respectively.

Apple sauce, Coca Cola, vinegar, hand sanitiser and kiwi fruit are among the suggestions users are encouraging others to apply to the tests in the hope of testing positive for Covid-19 and being made to stay away from school.

However, many users pointed out that pupils’ positive lateral flow tests are required to be followed by a PCR test.

Independent fact checking organisation Full Fact has previously explained that fizzy drinks and acidic fruits can appear to break the test into displaying what looks like a positive result, clarifying that rapid tests very rarely return false positive results when used on humans as intended. 

Fizzy drinks and acidic fruits can appear to break the test into displaying what looks like a positive result

Dr Alexander Edwards, associate professor in Biomedical Technology at the University of Reading, previously told Full Fact: “If you completely ignore the manufacturer’s instructions or in fact use the test for something completely different, then you shouldn’t really be surprised if you get a silly result.” 

One TikTok account appearing to belong to a British teenager features multiple videos of him testing combinations including Calpol cough medicine, lemon juice, orange juice, Lynx deodorant and Dior aftershave on rapid antigen tests. 

Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, told i this week that the spread of Delta through schools meant that the situation in some parts of the country had become “untenable”. 

She said pupils should be tested in school to combat teenagers who have stopped self-testing.

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.”


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