The British teenager behind viral TikTok videos experimenting with liquids to trick Covid-19 lateral flow tests insists the clips were purely for fun and that he hadn’t expected people to take them seriously.
Amaar, 17, from west London had been using the wildly popular app for two years when he decided to upload a clip of himself applying different liquids to a test during the Easter holidays.
The video mixing a concoction of orange juice, Lynx deodorant and Dior aftershave rapidly racked up more than 2.5m views, prompting him to try other unusual combinations – including lemon juice and Calpol, and Coca Cola and deodorant – in later clips.
“I hadn’t seen any videos on how to fake tests on TikTok before, it was just an idea that popped into my head because I’d just been given the tests at school,” he told i.
While none of Amaar’s four Covid test videos, which have just under 3m views, have returned positive results, many of the suggestions and tips in the comments are known for returning false positive results when applied to the tests.
Lemon juice, orange juice, kiwi fruit and fizzy drinks can appear to break some tests and make them display false positive results, which some teenagers have been using to their advantage in the hopes of being sent home from school.
A father from Greater Manchester told i his son was among nine teenagers sent home to self-isolate after their friend followed TikTok videos explaining how to obtain a false result.
While commenters accused Amaar of wasting the tests in his videos, he hadn’t sent them for lab testing or anticipated the amount of attention his experiments would attract, he maintained.
“I’m not a serious person – the idea wasn’t to get a positive test, it was just to play around,” he said.
“I got loads of comments from people telling me what to try, so I could have tried all the liquids individually to try and see what actually did turn it positive. But I didn’t really want a positive, because that would have ruined it.”
Schools have been criticised as failing to ensure their students are completing the twice-weekly required lateral flow tests, making it easy for them to skip taking them altogether.
“I don’t think schools are really taking it seriously,” he said. “They don’t really chase you up: we’re told to take two tests a week, but you just get one email a week reminding you – there’s no follow up.”
He hopes England will have fully opened up by the time he finishes school for the year after what he concedes has been a challenging time.
“This year’s been hard and it’s been long as well, especially with the online learning. I’m not the only one that’s missed out on a lot of work,” he added.
“The videos are just kids having fun at the end of the day, I was bored and I found it fun, I liked doing it. I want to try something that no one’s tried – maybe I’ll make a new one soon.”