Teens have found a novel new way to get out of going to school, and they’re taking to social media to spread. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, TikTok users are sharing ways to create a fake positive COVID test — getting themselves out of in-person classes in the process.
The trick, which works with lateral flow COVID tests, is worryingly simple. All a would-be truant needs to do to beat the test is soak it in caustic liquid. Videos online show kids using everything from Coca-Cola to fruit juice to hand sanitizer, resulting in a positive result.
Users on TikTok have been looking for ways to fake a COVID-positive result on the test for months. Previous attempts show users rubbing the testing swab on everything from food items to hand railings.
However, the liquid-soaking method has caught fire on TikTok thanks to a video where a user doused the test in fruit juice.
“Who knew using blackcurrant on a lateral flow COVID test will give a positive result?” the user captioned the clip. “Thank me later.”
The tip quickly spread across the platform, with the hashtag #fakecovidtest gaining over 76 million views, according to the Daily Beast.
A Growing Concern In Schools
The trick has become especially popular with kids in the UK, where the government recommends taking two lateral flow tests a week. The tests are reportedly available to all high school-age students, and are “strongly encouraged” but not mandatory, reports Newsweek.
One UK school sent notices to parents after it learned of students at other institutions who had used the trick.
“Nationally, some school students have discovered that placing droplets of orange juice or other fruit juice on an LFD [lateral flow device] test gets a false ‘positive’ result,” the email from Gateacre School in Liverpool read.
“In light of this, can you be extra vigilant when your child is doing their LFD tests? Also, remind them that a positive LFD test must be followed by a confirmatory PCR test,” the notice continued.
“We thought we would share this with our parents so that they were aware of the practice and to supervise the home testing of their child, whenever possible, when using LFD tests,” said Gareth Jones, head teacher at Gateacre.
Meanwhile, Geoff Barton, chief of Britain’s Association of School and College Leaders, told the press that only a “very small minority” of students were using the trick to skip school.
“However,” Barton added, “we would urge parents to ensure that tests are not being misused, and we would suggest to pupils who are interested in chemical reactions that the best place to learn about them is chemistry lessons in school.”
A statement from a UK government spokesperson chastised those who would try the viral trick.
“It is imperative that everyone using lateral flow devices uses them in the correct way to ensure we can control and slow the spread of COVID-19,” the statement read.
TikTok has pledged to remove any clips promoting COVID-19 misinformation from the platform.
“Our community guidelines make clear that we remove content which includes misleading information that causes harm, including medical misinformation related to COVID-19, and anti-vaccine disinformation more broadly,” a company spokesperson said.