Covid testing – your questions answered…

January 14 2021   |   News

There are now various COVID-19 tests available and they can be obtained in a number of different ways.

But, what is the difference between the COVID-19 tests available and which one do you need?

There are three main types of COVID test:

  • PCR
  • Antigen
  • Antibody

What is the difference between PCR, Antigen and antibody testing?

PCR COVID-19 tests

A PCR test detects the genetic information of a virus, the RNA. This detection is only possible if the virus is there and someone is actively infected. Therefore it is mostly used when symptoms of COVID raise an alarm and a person is looking to find out if their symptoms are the COVID-19 virus. This is available at: 

It is also currently used to test people prior to and after travel. Prior to travel a PCR test certificate showing a negative result within the last 24-hours is the documentation required by many airlines.

A PCR test is also required in the Test to Release scheme which began operating in December 2020 and allows travellers to reduce the time of required quarantine upon returning to England by paying privately for a COVID test five days after their arrival. Summerfield Healthcare are an approved provider and you can book your test to release COVID-19 PCR test here: 

PCR tests are 100% sensitive to detecting the virus in a sample – even after levels have dropped below infectious levels.

Rapid Antigen COVID-19 Testing

Antigen testing is proving invaluable in the battle with COVID – helping business and organisations keep staff safe by regularly testing staff on-site with results known in just 15 minutes.

The test allows employers and managers to carry out rapid cost-effective screening and outbreak control by quickly identifying COVID infected team members within businesses, workforces, organisations, education and community groups from a simple swab. 

Antigen tests are 98.2% sensitive in detecting viral levels that are currently considered to be infectious.

Antibody Testing

An antibody test won’t tell you who is infected, because the antibodies are generated after a week or two, after which time the virus should have been cleared from the system. But it can tell you who has been infected in the past by detecting the presence of IgG antibodies – produced in response to being exposed to coronavirus.

Where can you get the tests you require?

You can get a free NHS PCR test if at least one of the following applies:

  • you have a high temperature
  • you have a new, continuous cough
  • you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed
  • you’ve been asked to get a test by a local council
  • you’re taking part in a government pilot project
  • you’ve been asked to get a test to confirm a positive result

If you are going into hospital you may need to get tested prior to surgery or a procedure – the hospital will arrange this for you and you should contact your hospital department if you have any questions.

Please note guidance is frequently changing and you should check with the local authority in your area.

You should organise a private PCR test if: 

  • you’re planning to leave the country
  • your employer or school has asked you to get a test but you have no symptoms
  • You wish to undergo a test for reassurance

Regular rapid antigen testing for people without coronavirus symptoms is being rolled out across England in order to help break transmission.

Local councils are being encouraged to prioritise tests for those who cannot work from home during the lockdown.

But Lateral Flow Antigen testing kits are available now for employers and organisations looking to put plans in place to minimise the spread of infection.

We supply the Siemens Clinitest which has Public Health England approval, is CE marked, and is proving crucial in the fight to contain the virus, preventing its spread. 

Studies carried out by the developer across a number of different sites and clinical environments revealed high-quality results in performance:

  • Sensitivity 98.22% 
  • Specificity 99.22%
  • Accuracy 99.44% 

The Siemens Clinitest is proving hugely successful and is very much in demand. Its reliability and accuracy are giving employers all over the country the confidence to keep business moving safely.