Hundreds of Britons claim to have hurt themselves getting tested for Covid, official data shows.
Dozens say they’ve fainted or choked while swabbing, while others have complained about nose bleeds and hot flashes.
Drug regulators tasked with policing the safety of virus tests have logged over 3,000 reports of harm throughout the pandemic.
The figures, obtained by MailOnline through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, are only a ‘snapshot’, however.
Thousands more people will have hurt themselves while using lateral flows or taking swabs because not everyone reports their experiences, experts say.
And the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the body in charge of safety monitoring, also insist the swabs won’t have definitely been to blame in the few cases that have been logged.
More than 500million tests have been conducted in the UK since the start of the pandemic, with the scheme costing up to £2billion per month at the height of the Omicron wave. But free testing for all was scrapped on April 1 as part of the Government’s ‘living with Covid’ strategy. Only the most vulnerable and elderly Britons can still access the tests for free, along with NHS workers. The rest of the public faces paying £2 per test in pharmacies such as Boots. An average of 415,000 Covid test results were reported per day over the last week, compared to more than 2million at the height of the Omicron wave in January
In a similar fashion to how side effects from the Covid vaccines are tracked, officials ask everyone to record any incidents that occur from getting tested.
The MHRA encourages people to report any safety concerns with the tests and give feedback, such as if it is damaged or components are missing.
It then investigates any serious problems and logs them, to prevent similar incidents in the future.
More than 500million tests have been conducted in the UK since the start of the Covid pandemic, with the now-axed scheme costing up to £2bn per month at the height of the Omicron wave.
At least 3,443 complaints were logged about Covid tests by April 7, according to the MHRA data.
Of these, 1,013 complaints were logged about lateral flow swabs.
At least 177 said they suffered ‘minor’ harm when using the tests, while between 39 and 69 reported ‘serious’ harm.
Uncertainty around the figures — collected monthly — are due to the watchdog not providing exact numbers when fewer than five people report a specific type of incident.
The vast majority of complaints did not give sufficient information about the harms caused by tests.
But allergic reactions to components of the test and choking were the most common incidents reported.
Britons also complained of headaches, a bleeding nose, respiratory tract infections, sore throats, hot flushes, skin inflammation and swelling.
Between one and four deaths were logged.