There is a lot of talk around COVID tests and home test kits at the moment. Here we explain what the tests are, how they are completed, and what the test results actually mean.
There are two different types of coronavirus tests available – one is testing for whether you have coronavirus now and one is testing to see whether you have had it in the past.
Tests for current coronavirus infection
There are three different tests available that can tell you whether you are currently infected with coronavirus and these are:
#1 PCR Tests
A PCR test (otherwise known as a Polymerase Chain Reaction) test is a test that is completed with the use of a swab from your nose and/throat or alternatively using your saliva (the liquid inside your mouth). You complete the sample collection at home and then send the swab or saliva sample back to the lab for testing.
We aim to have the results of your Fit2FlyTest PCR Test back to you within 72 hours so that you have peace of mind that you can travel safely if the test is negative. If you test positive then it means you have coronavirus now.
#2 LAMP Test
A LAMP test (otherwise known as a Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification test) uses different technology to the PCR test that we use. It is also a swab test but it can give a result in as little as 90 minutes, as it does not need to be sent back to a laboratory.
However, the LAMP Test is not thought to be as accurate as the PCR test, with clinical evaluation results being mixed as to exactly how accurate the results are.
#3 Lateral Flow Test
The Lateral Flow Test (also known as the Antigen Test) also involves taking a swab from your nose/throat. This sample is then analysed for specific proteins, and if these proteins are found it means that you are infected with coronavirus now.
Again, this test is not felt to be as reliable as a PCR test, as it seems to be less sensitive to picking up coronavirus infection. They are being rolled out across England, however, in order to try and discover who may be infected with Coronavirus but are not showing any symptoms.
The above three tests are used in different situations and amongst different groups of people. For example, a Fit2FlyTest PCR Test is the best option for people planning to fly abroad as it includes a Fit to Fly Certificate if your results are negative. If you are travelling back to the UK from abroad then you will want to purchase a Test to Release COVID-19 PCR Test to reduce the amount of time you need to spend self-isolating when you return home.
Tests to see if you have had Coronavirus in the past
The main test to see if you have had coronavirus in the past is the antibody test.
This test aims to discover if you have recovered from coronavirus by looking at whether you have developed antibodies for it or not (known as an immune response). When we have an infection, our bodies respond by producing antibodies to protect ourselves against the virus. This way, if you come into contact with the same virus again, your body is prepared to fight it this time.
The antibody test is completed through testing a blood sample which is usually sent to a laboratory for testing. Scientists don’t fully understand how antibodies against coronavirus work yet, but the understanding that they have at the moment seems to point to the fact that antibodies tend to develop around 11 days after the body was first infected.
The limitations of antibody tests are that sometimes they can produce a false negative result. They can show you a negative result, even if you have suffered from coronavirus in the past. It could be that you did produce coronavirus antibodies but they have reduced over time.
Fit2FlyTest offers COVID home sampling tests which can tell whether you are currently suffering from Coronavirus or not. Our gold-standard PCR Tests have 100% specificity towards Sars-COV-2 and so will only detect the presence of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.