The Different Types of Covid Tests
article discussing the types of covid-19 test available. which you need? what are the differences? How they work? what are the pros and cons.
covid-19 testing, pcr test, lateral flow test, coronavirus testing, which covid test do I need
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The Different Types of Covid Tests

The Different Types of Covid Tests

PCR… Lateral flow… does it matter?

If you have had to fly abroad within the last year or you or a family member are currently in education then it is most likely that you have become familiar with testing for Covid-19. Testing is becoming more accessible and encouraged even if you are not displaying any symptoms. Across many industries, it is now becoming more common to provide test either on a weekly basis for employees or for attendees before the start of an event. Currently there are 2 types of test; Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or Lateral flow tests (LFTs) we will now discuss them.

Polymerase chain reaction test.

If you are going abroad the PCR test is the one you will most likely need to take. This test directly looks for the presence of the virus at more early stage which means it will detect the virus before you start to display symptoms.

The test involves taking swab samples from the mouth and nose and then sending the sample to a lab where the PCR machine test whether the samples are positive or  negative.

Whilst they are more accurate than the LFT’s, they need to be sent to a lab, so results take longer to receive and the test is more expensive.

The test can produce false negatives as well as false positives but at this current time, it is the best available method of screening for Covid-19.

Lateral flow test.

LFT’s are the test being given to students to take on a regular basis. Some companies are now are offering them to there employees and in areas with high Covid rates and variants they are being delivered to householders. Like PCR testing, this test also looks for traces of virus however its method is not as accurate.

This test also involves taking a swab sample from the mouth and nose but the sample is then placed on an absorbent pad. The advantage of this test is that the swab does not need to be sent to a lab, instead the result is shown in 30 minutes. As mentioned earlier though, the accuracy is a lot less with an average accuracy of around 58% compared to a PCR’s accuracy which over 90% for those without symptoms.

Along with whether a person is symptomatic or not, the different brands of LFTs will also play a role on the accuracy.

Across the UK, people can get a free test kit from a local pharmacy.  There availability and speed of result have seen then become more common but until they can be improved they will not replace PCR testing.


Remember test should not negate the ongoing need for good hygiene practices sensible social distancing when necessary. If you would like to know please feel free to get in touch otherwise remain safe.

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