What is the PCR test for?

To detect the whether you have SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in your nose or throat

What is the Rapid Antigen test for?

To check if you are carrying the virus and are infectious to others

What is an antibody test for?

To check whether you have developed antibodies to the virus in your blood from a past infection or exposure

Why would I do the PCR test?

  • To know if your symptoms are being caused by a coronavirus infection.
  • To know if you have coronavirus in your nose and throat whether you have symptoms or not from being in contact with an infected person
  • To know if you are infectious to others

Why would I do a Rapid Antigen test?

To quickly check if you are infectious to others. With results in 15-20 minutes this test let you know if you are putting others at risk as well as letting you know if you are infected with covid-19. Workplaces may want to regularly test their people to ensure they are not at risk of infecting each other.

Is the Rapid Antigen test accurate?

The Abbott Panbio Antigen Rapid Test that we use has shown a 98.2% sensitivity in detecting viral levels that are currently considered to be infectious (Ct values < 33). It has an overall sensitivity and specificity agreement with RT-PCR results of 97.9%

Why would I do an antibody test?

To see if you have already had covid-19 and may perhaps have some immunity to it.

What type of test is the PCR test?

It is a test that detects the RNA of coronavirus particles. This is why it is so sensitive and accurate. It does not rely on the body’s response to having been exposed to the virus previously, which can be variable. It tests for the presence of the coronavirus itself.

Is the PCR test accurate?

If there are any coronavirus on your swab it will definitely find it. However if it does not find coronavirus on your swab it does not necessarily mean you don’t have it. There is up to 30% chance that the virus may be not be picked up by the swab depending on swabbing technique. The best way to ensure the test is as accurate as possible is that a trained person takes the swab for you. If possible you may wish to choose this option at checkout. It is not the best test to check whether you are infectious as it can continue to pick the viral RNA up sometimes weeks after you are no longer infectious.

What type of test is the Rapid Antigen test?

It is a swab test which detects the presence of protein particles from the virus that causes covid-19 virus. The test must be administered by a trained healthcare professional. A swab is taken from the nose (nasopharyngeal), a fluid is added and this fluid is then tested for the presence of viral protein using a lateral flow device.

What type of test is the antibody test?

It is a blood test. You can have your blood taken by a healthcare professional or you can use one of our home-testing kits and provide a supervised finger prick (or venous/phlebotomy) sample which you post or deliver to us to process in our laboratory using a gold standard immunoassay auto-analyser manufactured by one of the world's leading laboratory and diagnostics providers

How long does it take to process the tests?

You will get your result back within 1-2 days of your swab or blood sample getting to our laboratory - unless something goes unexpectedly wrong, which does happen very occasionally with highly sophisticated and complex laboratory instruments.

What do I do if I find out I have coronavirus on my swab in the PCR test?

Make sure you isolate yourself with extra enthusiasm. Read all the advice and follow the guidance here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ and if you are feeling at all unwell go straight to this site to find what to do next:  https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/

What is Sensitivity of the IgG Antibody Test?*

This test has been shown to be between 96% and 100% sensitive in identifying antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus if taken 14 days after onset of covid-19 symptoms. Or put another way, everyone who had an illness that was confirmed to be caused by covid-19 developed IgG antibodies 14 days later so there were no false negatives. There are many people who may have been exposed to the virus but did not become ill that may not develop antibodies at all. It should also be noted that antibody levels have been shown to drop quickly so if the test is taken a few months after being ill it may not longer be positive.

What is the Specificity of the IgG Antibody Test?*

It is 99.63% specific. Or put another way, Only 0.37% of over 1000 people tested who had blood taken before December 2019 so could not have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 showed a false positive result. Interestingly there were over 70 people who had other similar respiratory illnesses tested in this group and none of them showed any false positives so it seems very unlikely that this test picks up antibodies to any of the other types of coronaviruses, or other viruses that cause flu-like or respiratory symptoms like covid-19. This problem of potential cross-reactivity was a very major concern about many of the cassette tests and other laboratory tests that were rushed to market.

What Regulatory Approvals Does IgG Antibody Test Have?

 This laboratory test has been evaluated by PHE, CE marked and FDA EUA approved, and is being used in UK and Europe in the millions of units in the frontline of testing efforts to track the spread of the virus through our community.

It is great to be able to provide testing developed by the world leader in developing SARS-CoV-2 testing and it is exciting to be one of the first laboratories in Europe able to make this particular test available to anyone who would like to know more about their exposure to this virus

Will I be Immune to Covid-19 Illness if I have a Positive IgG Test?

We don't know yet! There is still a lot to learn about this virus and having antibodies does not mean you definitely have immunity. Also, it is not yet clear how long immunity lasts, even if there is any. So please don't think you can shed the masks, flush the alcogel and rush out to a party just because you get a positive result!

While there is still a lot of uncertainty, it is likely and that you may have at least some temporary immunity. Still, it is very important that you do not take the presence of antibodies to mean that you are able to ignore government advice about social distancing, hand washing and isolation.

What is "return to work" testing?

There are some healthcare professionals and businesses who are taking a calculated risk that it is perhaps safe to return to work in some circumstances if people have both a PCR test which detects no virus, and a positive antibody test confirming the presence of antibodies - indicating that an individual is not carrying the virus and has been infected and recovered.