Everything you need to know about new rapid COVID-19 antigen testing
The new technology of fast testing for a COVID infection, known as lateral flow tests that provide a result in 15 minutes, has now undergone substantial clinical evaluation by Public Health England (PHE) and Oxford University.
The results of this evaluation show that these tests have good levels of accuracy and sensitivity which has proven to be effective in testing asymptomatic and symptomatic individuals. If given the go-ahead, this can be the tool needed to greatly reduce the spread of the virus.
We are providing this testing for individuals, schools, universities and companies and have written this guide to help you understand more about this fast COVID-19 test.
What exactly are lateral flow tests?
A lateral flow test is a rapid test that uses a paper-based platform for the detection of what is being analysed in a sample. A common example is a pregnancy test, detecting the hormone HcG.
A variety of sample types can be tested, such as blood or urine. In this case, the lateral flow test is testing the sample collected on a swab of the nose and throat.
During the test, the extracted specimen is applied to the test cartridge. If Covid-19 is present, it will bind to the SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody, causing the colour of the test strip to change.
There are several great benefits to fast COVID testing using lateral flow testing:
- COVID fast antigen tests can be read in 15 minutes.
- They do not need to be sent to a laboratory.
- The tests are easy to use.
Are the tests accurate?
Our chosen test showed 100% agreement with PCR testing within 7 days from the onset of symptoms and 96% from 8 days onwards.
Overall agreement is 98.61 %
What do specificity and sensitivity mean?
A highly sensitive test means that there are few false-negative results. This is great news as fewer cases of disease are missed.
A highly specific test means that there are few false-positive results.
Are there other types of fast tests for COVID?
We also offer a rapid COVID-19 test that is run in our own analyser, also providing the results within 15 minutes.
What are these tests useful for?
Rapid COVID testing is currently recommended for work purposes and mass testing and increasingly will be used for travel purposes.
So for example, in an office setting where one person tests positive for COVID-19 or becomes symptomatic, this test can be conducted on all team members who have had contact in order to support the decision to resume work as normal.
As over 70% of people who carry COVID-19 do not display symptoms, this is a helpful test for regular screening in offices, construction sites, schools and universities to help keep everyone safe.
It is also helpful for production companies and the film industry.
As fast COVID-testing is less sensitive than PCR testing, it should not be used if you need to be as sure as possible that you do not have COVID-19 – for example, if you are visiting someone vulnerable. In this case, you should opt for a COVID PCR test, the results of which we can provide within a day or two. PCR testing remains the gold standard for COVID-19 testing.
If you are interested in rapid COVID testing for your company, please email [email protected]