Advertisements for three private coronavirus test centres have been banned after they claimed they could show whether someone was immune to coronavirus.
Complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), which ruled all three were “misleading” and their adverts should be removed from their websites and social media platforms.
The paid-for Facebook advert for Corona Test Centre London, which appeared in May, featured a picture of a socially-distanced group of people wearing overalls and face masks and the message: “We are on a mission to safely get you back to your friends and back to work.”
X Medical Ltd, who owns the centre, was charging £120 for antigen tests and between £165 and £175 for “fit to fly” and PCR tests.
The watchdog said it considered that the advert would be interpreted by readers to mean the tests “were capable of indicating whether or not someone could safely return to work and to social gatherings without fear of contracting or passing on the virus”.
It ruled the ads misleading after it found no information in either which explained that a positive antibody result did not mean that a person was immune.
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Solihull Health Check Clinic’s ad was banned for claiming their antibody test results were “100% accurate” and “Public Health England and government approved”.
The advert, as seen on 2 July, offered test results within 24 hours and said positive ones would indicate a “coronavirus immune response”.
The ASA found the ad to be misleading on all three counts.
The other ad to be banned was for a travel vaccination clinic in London run by 360 Health Ltd.
An advert from 27 May offered a blood test that within two days could tell “whether you have potential antibodies (immunity) to COVID-19” and was targeted at people “thinking about getting back to work”.
It mentioned two tests – one that “detects IgG antibodies (long-term immunity) – and another rapid on-the-spot test which “detects IgM and IgG antibodies, “recent infection and longer-term immunity”.
The firm said it did not believe customers found their advert to be misleading and had not received any other complaints.
In its ruling on Wednesday, the ASA noted that as of 13 July, government guidance said that there was no strong evidence yet to suggest those who had been proven to have had the virus, and to have produced antibodies, were immune.
It comes after a man in Nevada was confirmed to have contracted the virus twice – first on 18 April and for a second time on 5 June.