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


The morality of a Bedford auction house has been called into question after free NHS lateral flow tests were discovered for wholesale on their website.

W&H Peacocks on Wallis Way, Bedford have three lots of PCR and lateral flow tests up for auction tomorrow (January 1). The photographs clearly show more than 100 boxes in total.

They are listed in the Bedford Weekly Auction Catalog as “PCR and Rapid Covid-19 Test Quantity” under Lots 2018, 2019 and 2020.

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

This raises questions of ethics, morals and safety, given that NHS lateral flow testing is free and the UK is currently experiencing a shortage.

W&H Peacocks has been approached for comment via email and phone. We were kept on hold for a while but were told ‘no one was available to comment’.

They also did not respond to our email at the time of posting.

Councilor Louise Jackson, health and wellness portfolio holder at Bedford Borough Council, said: ‘It is not for me to determine the legality of selling lateral flow tests in this manner, but they may not be genuine.

“I urge Bedford residents to order or collect from verified sources. The government portal is the best option. Delivery slots are released regularly.

The peacock auction raises questions about 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 were stored when the country’s supply is low, and whether these products are even genuine.

Update: This story was updated on January 01, 2022 at 12:01 pm. We have added details on how we contacted W&H Peacocks to get a response from them in an appropriate manner.

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