What’s the Difference Between the Tests?
A swab of an individual’s nasal cavity is taken and sent off to the UK laboratories that we have partnered with. The sample will be examined by medical professionals, who will determine if DNA related to COVID-19 is present. Patients will receive results of the PCR test within 48 hours and will be sent official documentation from the laboratory to clarify this.
The PCR Test for COVID-19 is approved by Public Health England (PHE) and is currently being used by the government to test frontline workers and those who are showing symptoms of the coronavirus.
A pre-test consultation will be conducted with you via our Call Centre team to explain how to administer the test correctly, and a post-test consultation will be conducted to help you understand the results and what to do next.
What do I have to do?
These are the simple stages of the COVID-19 PCR Testing Kit.
- When you have received your PCR test, you must register your test with us. This is to ensure that you receive your results.
- Remove the swab-like device from the packaging. You should take a sample from your throat, or by placing the swab up your nose so that it reaches the back of the throat.
- Place the swab into the tube with preservative liquid. Make sure the swab is secure and that the tube is not leaking.
- Place the sealed tube into the postage bag provided.
- Send the sample along with the relevant paperwork in the postage back to the specified laboratory.
When taking the sample, you should make sure that the swab does not come into contact with anything else. Use the swab as soon as you have removed it from the protective pouch.
You will be informed of your results from the PCR test around 48 hours after your sample has been sent to the laboratory. You will also be given official documentation from the laboratory that will explain your results.
If you receive a positive result from the PCR test, you should self-isolate immediately, even if you are not exhibiting symptoms. Inform anyone you think may be affected by your result so they can take the necessary precautions.
If you receive a negative result from the PCR test, this does not mean that you will not be affected by COVID-19 in the future. You should always practise social distancing and behave in line with government regulations to protect yourself and others.
What does PCR stand for?
PCR stands for ‘polymerase chain reaction.’ PCR testing involves duplicating DNA found within a sample obtained from an individual’s nasal cavity, in order to enlarge the quantity of DNA and allow for effective analysis. ‘Polymerase’ is an enzyme which contributes to the copying of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) or RNA (ribonucleic acid).
How does the PCR test work?
PCR tests involve replicating DNA within a sample that is taken from a person’s nasal cavity. This is done so that there is a larger quantity of DNA to be examined. Once this stage of PCR testing is complete, medical professionals will examine the DNA to establish whether it is linked to a specific illness or disease.
In the case of COVID-19 PCR testing, medical professionals will determine if the DNA in the sample is related to the coronavirus. If the DNA is found to be linked to COVID-19, this means that the individual is currently infected with COVID-19 and may pose a risk to others.
Is the test specific for COVID-19?
Yes. Medical professionals examine the DNA within the sample provided to determine if this matches the genetic material for COVID-19.
What samples can I use?
You should take a sample from the rear of the nasal cavity, where the nasopharynx is located. This will ensure that the swab picks up any RNA from COVID-19 if you are infected.
Is this the COVID-19 PCR Test the same test that the government are using?
Yes, the government are also using PCR testing to identify those who are currently infected with COVID-19.
How is the COVID-19 PCR test different from the COVID-19 antibody test?
The COVID-19 PCR test detects the presence of DNA that is specific to COVID-19, thereby establishing if an individual is currently infected with the coronavirus. The sample for PCR testing is collected by taking a swab of the nasal cavity.
Has the PCR test been accredited by the NHS or Public Health England?
Yes, the PCR test for COVID-19 have been approved by Public Health England and is the method of testing that the government are using to test NHS frontline workers.
What should I do if I test positive?
If you receive a positive result, this means that you are currently infected with COVID-19, and you could pose a risk to others around you. Therefore, you should self-isolate immediately, and inform those you have been in contact with in the last 7 days in case this result affects them.
If you would like further information on what you should do if you receive a positive result, you should visit https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19 or contact the NHS on 111.
What if I receive a positive result from the PCR test but do not display any symptoms?
There is evidence to show that individuals can be infected with COVID-19 and not suffer any symptoms. While you may not be suffering with symptoms, if you test positive for COVID-19, this puts others at risk because they may be able to catch the coronavirus from you. Therefore, if you receive a positive result, you should self-isolate immediately, and inform others you have been in contact with during the last 7 days.
What if I receive a negative result?
If you receive a negative result, this means you are not currently infected with COVID-19. However, this does not mean you are not susceptible to catching COVID-19, and you should therefore take all of the necessary precautions as advised by the government, such as maintaining social distancing.
Is there anyone who cannot be tested?
No. If a greater number of people are tested through PCR testing, this will reduce the pressure on the government to increase testing capacity.
Can pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding be tested?
Yes. This test will not harm the mother or baby.
What is the science behind PCR testing?
PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing examines DNA or RNA within a sample to determine if this matches the genetic material of an antigen. The name of the process refers to the replication of DNA that is required to ensure that there is enough DNA to be analysed.
DNA and RNA carry genetic material. DNA stands for ‘Deoxyribonucleic Acid,’ which copies and stores genetic information within an organism and allows for this to be passed onto offspring. It has two strands and takes the form of a double helix. RNA stands for ‘Ribonucleic Acid’, and its role is to take genetic material within DNA and use this to build proteins. RNA has one strand and is shorter than DNA.
Initially, the individual must take a sample from the nasopharynx using a swab-like device. The nasopharynx is the upper part of the throat that is located behind the nose. The swab-like device will collect droplets of saliva, mucous and any DNA or RNA of an antigen if a person is infected.
Following the collection of the sample, this will be preserved in a liquid and sent to a laboratory for examination. First, chemicals will be applied to the sample to eradicate any other cells or components aside from the DNA or RNA. If there is RNA in the sample rather than DNA, enzymes are used to turn the RNA into DNA.
The majority of PCR testing involves copying DNA. To do so, medical professionals must use ‘primers’, which are short sequences of DNA that match the ends of the DNA they are attempting to copy. Primers are single-stranded. ‘Polymerase’ must also be used, which is an enzyme that examines the code of the DNA and contributes to the duplication process.
To begin the DNA replication process, medical professionals must initiate ‘denaturation,’ which forces DNA to lose its double-stranded structure, separating it into single strands. Next, the temperature is lowered, and the primers are linked to the single strands of DNA. Polymerase is applied to the joined DNA and primers, which copies the code. This part of the process is called ‘annealing.’ Finally, ‘extension’ takes place. This produces double-stranded DNA. These three stages allow for one double-stranded DNA to be increased to two sections of double-stranded DNA. Therefore, the whole process must be repeated multiple times to enlarge the DNA sample for proper analysis.
PCR testing can determine if a person is currently infected with an illness or disease from a small sample, making it one of the most valuable methods of testing. Furthermore, by determining if a person is infected with an antigen before any symptoms are apparent, this can help to prevent the development of serious infections, and subsequently stop these infections from spreading.
Is PCR testing only used to test for COVID-19?
No. PCR testing can also be used for identifying Sexually Transmitted Infections, and discovering biological links.
However, the ‘primers’ used in PCR testing for COVID-19 are unique. Primers are short strands of nucleic acid which are used to replicate DNA.
- Order your PCR Test Kit.
You can use this page to order your PCR Test. This is a home testing kit, which requires you to take a sample and send this off to the laboratory that we have partnered with. You can give us a call on 0207 1646 955 if you have any questions about whether this is the right test for you.
- Register your kit and undergo a pre-test consultation.
Once you receive your PCR Test Kit, you should give us a call on 0207 1646 955 to register your home testing kit and to undergo a pre-test consultation. By doing so, you can ensure that you understand how to use the test properly. A pre-test consultation is included in the price of the PCR Test.
- Use the swab to collect a sample
The PCR Test Kit comes with a swab to collect a sample from your nose or throat. Once you have taken your swab, you should put this into the tube provided that contains preservative liquid.
- Send the sample to the laboratory
Place the sealed sample into the pre-paid postage envelope provided with the kit. We recommend that you post it as soon as possible after collecting the sample.
- Receive your results
You will receive your results from the laboratory within 48 hours. They will dictate if you have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Undergo a post-test consultation
If you wish to discuss your PCR Test results, you can give us a call on 0207 1646 955.