COVID-19 Testing

Updated 26th May 2021

With many tests currently on the market we thought it would be helpful for our customers to explain what's available as each test has it's own benefit.

 

Please note that no test is currently 100% accurate, therefore tests should be used in combination, and in conjunction with assessment of the clinical history (evidence of symptoms including cough, fever, malaise and SOB) by the clinician before reaching any conclusions. Please use our guide below to help you make a decision on the most sensible test required, and if you need any help or further information please do not hesitate to contact us.

Woman with Paper Mask

Rapid Card Test - Many rapid card tests (also called Later Flow Devices/LFD) much like the pregnancy kits which are manufactured with the consumer in mind, have come to the market. These have lines which determine whether a patient is positive or negative for antibodies to the virus. The UK government and many UK laboratories have been unable to validate these cards as accurate, as the results with the gold standard test have not shown a reliable correlation. The kit insert which comes with these cards states that finger prick samples can be used, however this may be what causes false results as patients at home do not have access to calibrated (very accurate) instruments for measuring exact volumes of samples to use with the card test.

 

PCR Testing - A throat/nasal (nasopharyngeal) swab is taken from a patient. This is then sent to a molecular laboratory where RT-PCR analysis takes place; this is where a small strand of RNA, using reverse transcription  to build it's DNA form, and then amplified millions of times in order to be able to detect any presence of the virus. This is currently the most used test all over the world to determine a current infection and it is the most sensitive for early stage detection (within 1 week of infection commencing). The only downside is that if you have recovered from the virus then upon re-testing the result will be negative (> 1-2 weeks from initial positive RT-PCR result). If a patients has all the obvious symptoms which highly correlate with a COVID-19 infection then this is the most reliable test to perform. This is the only test from which the government is currently accepting confirmed results for COVID-19 infections. However if symptoms have passed after 2 weeks then Antibody testing is the next best option to confirm exposure to coronavirus.

Antibody Testing - A blood sample is collected from the patient. This is then sent to a serology lab who perform an ELISA/Immunoassay test in order to detect the levels of antibodies; this is what the human body produces in response to harmful pathogens in order to be able to provide immunity and destroy the pathogen quicker when future infections take place again with the same pathogen. If there is IgM antibody present then this shows that the infection is fairly recent. If the result is IgM negative, but IgG positive then this shows that the initial infection was approximately over 2 weeks. There is currently no evidence that re-infection does not occur, therefore antibody testing by no means certifies individuals 'immunity passports' if they have tested positive. Social distancing practices should still be adhered to regardless of the result.

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