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Watch: NI radio reporter shows how Fruit Shoots can change Covid tests from negative to positive

A Northern Ireland man has shocked scientists and medical experts by demonstrating how acidic fruit drinks can change Covid lateral flow tests from negative to positive.

Matthew Thompson, a senior reporter with LBC radio in London, posted a video online showing himself testing negative for the virus and then having the opposite result when using drops of Fruit Shoot.

It follows claims on the TikTok social media platform that pranksters have been showing children how to use this technique to create a false positive on coronavirus tests to bunk off school.

Mr Thompson, who is originally from east Belfast, said he had heard rumours that the acidity of the drink destroys antibody proteins in the test.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

Sceptical of the claims, he decided to check it out for himself — and it transpired that, after substituting liquid drops from a Fruit Shoot instead of saliva and mucus, it gave a positive reading.

Matthew, who was careful not to show exactly how it was done, said a teacher had initially raised the alarm.

“We heard that there was a TikTok video circulating in which kids were being told to put Fruit Shoots on these lateral flow tests. Pupils have to do these in schools in England,” he added.

"The video was telling people to pour Fruit Shoot on it to get a fake positive test so you can get a couple of days off.

“That’s because the policy here is that if you get a positive lateral flow test, you have to leave school and go home until you can take a confirmatory PCR test.

“Conceivably, it gives the pupil in question a day, if not more, off school. I’ve heard, anecdotally, that in some schools a positive lateral flow test may even be enough to send a whole class home.”

He added: “Whilst no one is denying that Covid is on the rise — and definitely in schools here — in England we saw a 70% increase in positive tests in the last week, so you have to ask yourself what percentage of those are actual Covid positives and what percentage are kids’ Fruit Shoots?”

Matthew said that after seeking a scientific explanation, he was told that it was “to do with the acidity of the juice so you could conceivably use lemon juice or anything that was acidy because it messes around with the enzymes and basically fools the test into thinking that it’s positive.”

He added: “Obviously we don’t want to give the impression that all the positive tests in schools are now being driven by Fruit Shoot, but we can reasonably expect that a certain percentage of them is without undermining the seriousness of the fact that this thing is spreading and there are probably lots of legitimate cases in schools as well.”.

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