Bedford auction house sells free NHS lateral flow tests in bulk amid national shortage

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The morality of a Bedford auction house has been questioned after free NHS lateral flow tests were discovered for bulk sale on their website.

W&H Peacocks on Wallis Way, Bedford, have three lots of PCR and lateral flow tests listed for sale at auction tomorrow (1 January). Photographs clearly show over 100 boxes in total.

They are listed under the Bedford weekly auction catalogue as ‘quantity of PCR and Rapid Covid-19 tests’ under lots 2018, 2019 and 2020.

A screenshot of the listing on W&H Peacocks’ website

This raises questions of ethicacy, morality and safety, given that NHS lateral flow tests are free and the UK is currently experiencing a shortage.

W&H Peacocks were approached for comment by email and a phone call. We were kept on hold for some time but were told, “no one was available for comment”.

They also did not respond to our email by the time of publication.

Councillor Louise Jackson, portfolio holder for health and wellbeing at Bedford Borough Council, said: “It’s not for me to determine the legality of selling lateral flow tests in this way, but they may not be genuine.

“I would urge Bedford residents to order or collect from verified sources. The government portal is the best option. Slots for delivery are being released regularly.”

The Peacocks’ auction raises questions around whether independent sellers should be able to profit from the pandemic in this way.

It also raises questions about where the tests came from, why they have been stock-piled when the country is low in supply, and if these products are even genuine.

Update: This story was updated on 01 January 2022 at 12:051 pm. We added further clarification as to how we contacted W&H Peacocks to obtain a response from them in an appropriate manner.

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