The coronavirus pandemic has caused a tidal wave of change in our lives and having had a period of lockdown, we are now facing the tentative returns to work. Like everyone, I have been keen to know how to help. I have known that testing and tracking Covid-19 will be key to how we can keep this in check. It will allow us to review the impacts that relaxing of lockdown will have. Testing has been a contentious issue and availability has rightly been limited to our keyworkers and anyone ill or at risk. However, it is also important that testing is now more widely available to us all. Given my background in research and as a surgeon, I have waited until the right tests with high levels of accuracy were available for me to be confident enough to offer it.
At The Clinic by Dr Mayoni, we are now able to supply two separate tests: a PCR swab test kit to help determine if you are currently infected by Covid-19, or an Antibody fingerprick kit to detect IgG antibodies in your blood that would indicate you have already been exposed to the virus.
We post the kits out to you to perform at home – there are written instructions and I have created U-Tube videos to explain too. The PCR test involves a nose and throat swab. These results will be available two to three days after the laboratory receives the swab. The antibody test involves supplying a blood sample via a finger prick and results will be available one to two days after the laboratory receives the sample. In both cases, I will communicate the results to you.
Both the PCR and Antibody tests report high sensitivity and high specificity.
Sensitivity tells you how often a test correctly gives a positive result for people who have the condition being tested for. This is also known as the “true positive” rate.
Specificity tells you how often test correctly generates a negative result for people who do not have the condition being tested for. This is also known as the “true negative” rate.
The PCR test has a specificity of 100% and a sensitivity of 100%
The Antibody test has a specificity of 100% and a sensitivity of 97.5%.
These tests are being analysed by a private lab and therefore does not impact on the workload applied to the NHS laboratories. We are providing this as an extra service until there is no need for it and capacity exists within the NHS. They are working hard to make this happen and we will support them in this.
What is the difference between the PCR test and the Antibody test?
The PCR test answers the question “Do I have Covid-19?” and the Antibody test answers the question “Has my body shown a IgG antibody response to Covid-19?’. The PCR test is ideal for those who think they may currently have the virus. The Antibody test is to identify if you have shown an immune response after you have recovered from the symptoms – and should only be used at least 14 days after the first onset of those symptoms. No doubt in the coming weeks and months, there will probably be a need to regularly show immunity (some countries have an immunity passport). Performing BOTH tests together will be considered evidence “fitness to return to work”. I believe this will be invaluable to many business owners especially where it will be difficult to maintain social distancing by staff e.g hairdressers, retail shops and cafes. Myself and my team will be having both tests prior to opening in coming weeks.
When should I use these tests?
Use the PCR test if you suspect you currently have Covid-19 or suspect you have recently been exposed to it. The PCR test can detect Covid-19 even if you don’t yet have symptoms.
Use the Antibody test if you believe you have had Covid-19 and are at least 14 days, but ideally 21 days, from the beginning of your symptoms. This is because it takes time for the body’s immune system to respond to the virus and develop IgG antibodies. If you take the test too soon, the antibody may not be detected.
Does a positive test result mean I am immune from future infection?
No. At present, we do not know if recovering from Covid-19 or developing antibodies protects you from reinfection.
According to the World Health Organisation: “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.”
How will the tests be delivered to me?
All tests are sent out using Royal Mail First Class “Signed For” service. Orders to countries outside of the UK will incur extra postage costs so please let us know if this is the case.
How do I return the sample to you?
The test packages include a UK pre-stamped envelope to be posted back to our laboratory partners. We recommend that UK customers return the test to the laboratory using Royal Mail Special Delivery Next Day Tracked service. If you are returning the test from another country, please contact us for more details and advice before completing the tests.
Are the tests safe?
Each test is CE marked, which means that the manufacturer has checked that the tests meet EU safety, health or environmental requirements, and comply with EU legislation. These tests are also authorised for distribution by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration)
Do you offer discounts for the NHS?
We offer discounted tests for NHS frontline staff. Please email Reception to find out more.