What is the PCR test for?
To detect the whether you have SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in your nose or throat
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 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. You may have swabbed in way that missed the virus, or at a time when it was in such low numbers that it didn’t get picked up on the swab. 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 the drive-in option at checkout.
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 proven to be 100% sensitive in identifying antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus at 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.
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 the Test Have?
This laboratory test is PHE approved, CE marked and FDA EUA approved, and is being shipped to laboratories in the UK and Europe in the millions of units to be used 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.