Crates full of NHS Covid tests stolen and illegally sold for up to £400 a box

Thousands of NHSCovid tests are now being sold illegally online for up to £400 a box, a new probe has discovered.

Boxes of the 15-minute lateral flow test were found by The Mirror on multiple online markets.

The tests are being sold for between £45 to £400 on Facebook, eBay and Gumtree.

The NHS tests which have been created Innova are thought to be stolen from the UK supply chain.

The Mirror discovered the tests had been stolen due to their unique lot numbers.

The Mirror understands around a dozen codes correspond to batches sent to the Department of Health last October and November under contracts with the drugs firm worth £829million.

It is not known how many kits were stolen – or from where in the supply chain.

The Innova kits were used in the first mass Covid-19 testing trial in Liverpool in November and are now being offered to NHS staff and care home visitors.

Police were last night probing the online sales after we alerted them.

A source said: “Clearly, there are individuals stealing tests that should be used to protect the most vulnerable and trying to sell them for profit.

“It’s disgusting but they need to know they won’t get away with it.”

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The news outlet was able to buy 50 of the tests despite the Birmingham-based seller’s listing being taken down by eBay.

They were sent a message over the site with an email address to contact them.

On asking if the kits were still available, their reporter was told: “Yeh eBay took them down for some reason to do with selling medical supplies.

"We have around 25 boxes and each box contains 25 lateral flow tests. [On] eBay we sell for £45 but ­depending on how many your after could arrange something.”

After they agreed to buy two boxes for £80, a courier met their reporter at a petrol station and handed them over.

They later asked the seller if he was aware he was selling suspected stolen goods but got no reply.

West Midlands Police confirmed “the matter is currently ­being investigated”.

Underlining the scale of the issue, they found another seller offering next-day delivery and one who said: “I’ve got 1 box of 25 and can get more.”

A third hawked a box for £100 but went quiet when they asked to meet.

Tried & Tested, UK distributor for California-based Innova, urged police to probe the “very concerning” ads and asked sites to pull them as “a matter of urgency”

Gumtree said it was looking into the “prohibited ads” and would “take any action necessary”.

Facebook said the sales violate its policies and were being removed.

And eBay said: “These items are prohibited. We are taking action against sellers.”

The Department of Health was contacted for comment.

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