High street chemists Boots has confirmed it will start selling single Covid tests for £5.99 from Wednesday with the end to free testing in sight.
Customers can purchase a pack of four lateral flow tests online for £17, or one test for £5.99, including delivery.
Next month people can buy them in-store for £12 for a pack of five.
Living with Covid
Prime minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday announced a “Living with Covid” plan, which will end free testing and scrap self-isolation rules and payments.
Asif Aziz, director of healthcare services at Boots UK, said: “We are pleased to be expanding our Covid-19 testing services even further, with affordable lateral flow testing options for those who still want peace of mind from asymptomatic testing after 1 April.”
The company said the earlier launch date was to prepare both supply chains and customers ahead of the end of free testing.
However, there was mixed reaction to the announcement on social media, with one Twitter user pointing out the increased costs to households to act responsibly when one member catches the virus.
Some countries have placed a price cap on Covid tests, such as Spain which has a £2.45 maximum price cap.
In France the maximum price pharmacies can charge has fallen to €6 (£5) but the cap is due to be cut further.
When France temporarily allowed kits to be sold at supermarkets until 15 February they were available for as little as €1.25
Dan Shears, national health and safety director at the GMB union, described the move as “rampant profiteering” and said the cost would be a big sacrifice for the lowest-paid workers.
“The government should provide tests for free – they are a clear public health benefit that far outweighs cost. But if we have to pay, test provision should be subsidised to make tests affordable.
“The reality is that those who are most at risk are least able to afford testing, meaning it will not happen and low-paid workers – many of whom are key workers – will continue to take the brunt of Covid.”