Did flawed PCR tests convince us Covid was worse than it really was?

It has been one of the most enduring Covid conspiracy theories: that the 'gold standard' PCR tests used to diagnose the virus were picking up people who weren't actually infected.

Some even suggested the swabs, which have been carried out more than 200 million times in the UK alone, may mistake common colds and flu for corona.

If either, or both, were true, it would mean many of these cases should never have been counted in the daily tally – that the ominous and all-too-familiar figure, which was used to inform decisions on lockdowns and other pandemic measures, was an over-count.

And many of those who were 'pinged' and forced to isolate as a contact of someone who tested positive – causing a huge strain on the economy – did so unnecessarily.