Covid-19 Rapid Test Kits
Rapid testing for COVID-19 has become a cornerstone of the UK's fight against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
While early testing for the virus was carried out in the lab (PCR tests
), which took time, lateral flow test kits have enabled patients to have their tests analysed in the "field", meaning that results are available much more quickly.
One key benefit of rapid testing like this is faster decision making, which is crucial for a virus such as SARS-CoV-2 which spreads very quickly. Thanks to rapid COVID-19 antigen test kits, asymptomatic cases of the disease can be quickly identified, meaning that people go into self-isolation and stop spreading the virus sooner rather than later.
Although COVID-19 antigen testing was only available through NHS COVID-19 test sites, a recent decision by the UK Government means that they can now be acquired by private individuals who can use the kits on themselves or other consenting individuals (i.e., employees).
At HandStations, we stock a selection of Healgen testing kits that test for active infections (antigen tests) and previous infections (antibody tests).
All rapid COVID-19 test kits sold by HandStations come with full, clear instructions and have been approved
by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA).
What's the difference between an antibody and antigen test?
It's important to know the difference between antibody and antigen tests. In short, antibody tests look for PREVIOUS infections while antigen tests look for ACTIVE/CURRENT infections.
An antibody test looks for COVID-19 antibodies in a blood plasma sample. Antibodies are produced by the immune system when a pathogen (i.e., the SARS-CoV-2 virus) enters the body. The presence of antibodies therefore indicates that the virus has already been in the patient's body and thus they have previously been infected.
On the other hand, antigen tests look for COVID-19 antigens. These are commonly found in the back of the throat when an infection has taken hold, which is why COVID testing is done via a nasal and throat swab. Antigens are foreign bodies that induce an immune response, so the presence of COVID-19 antigens indicates that there is an active infection in the patient.
Can I self-test using COVID-19 antigen test kits?
Yes, the government has given the green light
for private individuals to test themselves with privately purchased COVID-19 lateral flow antigen tests. This means that antigen tests be used by any member of the public without any prior testing experience, in their own home or another community setting such as a place of work.
If you do decide to self-test, it's vital to follow the instructions that are included with your testing kit. Doing so ensures that you carry out the test correctly, avoid causing yourself harm, and end up with an accurate and reliable result, which keeps other people safe. The last thing you want is a false negative.
What should I do if my result is positive?
If your test result is positive, this means that it's likely that you had COVID-19 when the test was done. You must immediately self-isolate and keep self-isolating until you're no longer infectious (minimum 10 days). Anyone you live with must also self-isolate. You must also report your COVID-19 test result
via the gov.uk service.
What should I do if my result is negative?
A negative test result means that the test didn't find any signs of a COVID-19 infection. It's not typically necessary to isolate if you've had a negative result, but this depends if anyone you live or have come into contact with has had a positive test result. You should continue to keep following current government guidance such as social distancing and wearing masks.
What should I do if my result is void?
A void/inconclusive test result means that it was not possible for your test to say whether or not you had COVID-19 when the test was carried out. This usually happens when a test isn't completed properly. If this happens, you should carry out another test as soon as possible.
Should I use an antigen test if I have symptoms?
No---if you've got COVID-19 symptoms you must immediately self-isolate and contact NHS 119. They will be able to advise you on how to get tested.