Translation error for school Covid kits made all results positive

Letters have now been set to teachers and school heads over the error in the instruction leaflets of tens of the thousands of self-test kits

14 May 2021
Covid self-testing kits. Translation error for school Covid kits made all results positive

The self-testing Covid kits contained a leaflet that suggested any result they produced was positive Pic: Naiz: / @naiz_info / Twitter

By Hannah Thompson

A translation error has forced almost half of the Covid-19 self-testing kits used in French lycées to be reviewed, with many positive test results having possibly been wrongly confirmed.

The Education Ministry has sent out self-testing kits – under the brand name Panbio, by US lab Abbott – to lycées over the past three days.

It has now emerged that a translation error on the kits’ instructions has affected the reading of the result. 

The kits say that if one line shows up on the test, it indicates a positive result; but that if two bars show up, then the result is also positive.

Almost 43% of the tests sent out contain this error. 

Philippe Vincent, president of national education leaders’ union le SNPDEN, told Europe 1: “To tell you the truth, it made us laugh. We were sure there was supposed to be a negative result and a positive one.

“We said to ourselves that given the number of self-testing kits ordered...maybe they could have been a bit more careful about the products they were sending to hundreds of thousands of people.”

The ministry has now sent out letters to teachers and lycée directors with an updated instruction leaflet.

Yet, one of the three other types of self-testing kits ordered for student use also has a problem. While the leaflet has been translated error-free into eight languages, it does not have a French version at all.

More than 60 million self-testing kits are set to be sent to school establishments by the summer, for use by both teachers and staff, and students.

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