The spread of coronavirus—the virus that causes the illness COVID-19—has dominated world news since the start of 2020. This disease was first noted in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 and has since led to a global pandemic. With millions of people affected worldwide, many countries have announced enforced lockdowns with severe restrictions on daily life. Many people are keen to buy a coronavirus testing kit online in the UK without having to wait for an NHS test. While a positive test result would help to guide treatment, a negative result would prevent unnecessary isolation. Rapid tests are not a new phenomenon and are already used to screen for other infections, including HIV and influenza. So, what is a COVID-19 Rapid test, and how does it work?
At Pharmacy Planet, we can answer all of your coronavirus testing kit questions.
What Exactly is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a viral infection that causes a respiratory illness in the majority of people. It enters the body through cells deep within the lungs. This causes difficulties in breathing, along with other respiratory symptoms. The virus can also enter the body via cells in the stomach, intestines and rectum, and some people with coronavirus show gastrointestinal symptoms of the illness such as diarrhoea or vomiting. Having a COVID-19 testing kit would help to determine whether someone has definitely been infected by coronavirus, rather than another respiratory or intestinal infection.
Most coronavirus cases show a fever at some point during the illness. Other symptoms include a cough, loss of appetite, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of smell and generalised aches and pains in the joints and muscles. Unfortunately, in severe cases, coronavirus can cause pneumonia, the failure of multiple organs and death.
What is a Rapid Test?
Rapid tests are not a new phenomenon. Sometimes known as a rapid diagnostic test, they are quick and easy to perform and are ideal for testing for medical conditions or infections at home or in the community. They are also sometimes used in emergency situations. They provide results in around 20 minutes—and in a maximum of two hours. This ensures a prompt diagnosis, appropriate treatment and the adoption of preventative steps to halt further spread. A rapid test commonly used in China, for example, gives results in just 15 minutes. Rapid antibody tests are already in place for other viral infections, including HIV, and antigen tests are already used to detect the flu or streptococcal infections.
How Does a Rapid Test Work?
Although tests can vary depending on the condition, a small blood sample is generally required. This can often be obtained with just a tiny drop of blood from a fingertip, although sometimes a sample of blood needs to be taken from the vein. Once the blood sample has been taken, it is run through reagents contained within the test to give a positive or negative result based on markers within the individual's blood. Some antigen tests can detect viral components present in nasopharyngeal secretions, making a nose swab another method of prompt community testing. A positive result with these tests shows that the body has been exposed and mounted an immune response against coronavirus.
How is a Rapid Test Different to a Laboratory Test?
Many of us will have had a blood sample taken and then sent to a hospital laboratory for biochemical or haematological analysis. This kind of laboratory testing for COVID-19 can be requested by hospital clinicians, doctors or nurses working within the community. The results are only reported when the sample has been processed by the laboratory, which can take several days.
A rapid coronavirus testing kit yields same-day results—usually with a maximum wait of two hours. The test is convenient and can be carried out at home. This makes it is ideal for people who are self-isolating because of symptoms, or who do not wish to risk infection by leaving their homes.
What Does it Test For?
If you were to buy a home coronavirus testing kit, it would indicate whether you have either active infection or have already been infected. Rapid tests can test for specific immunoglobulins or markers of the disease. They can also check for antigens, which are substances found on the surface of some bacteria and viruses that can induce an immune response. If an antigen is detected, it suggests that you currently have the virus in your body. This is useful for accurate diagnosis in the early days of symptoms, when the body may not yet have started to produce antibodies.
How Accurate is the Rapid Test?
As at home testing of coronavirus is relatively new, it is difficult to quantify the accuracy of the results. The sensitivity and specificity of each test varies, and each test may work in a different way to detected antigens or antibodies. In China, Rapid tests have been used widely to help limit the spread of coronavirus. We recommend always reading and following manufacturer's instructions. If possible, ask someone else in your household to help you with your test, if they can do so safely. This is particularly important if you have to provide a nasal swab.
Why is Testing Recommended?
The EU has recommended that timely and accurate COVID-19 testing is achieved to slow the rate of the pandemic and to help with patient management. The World Health Organisation has stated that while laboratory testing is of the highest standard, there is limited testing capacity. As such, rapid antigen testing could relieve pressure on laboratories to meet the urgent testing needs of the wider community.
Testing is essential, regardless of the result. A negative outcome allows an individual to continue following government advice regarding social distancing without needing to self-isolate. A positive result enables individuals to take urgent steps to reduce the spread of infection. This should include remaining at home, isolating from other members of your household, and strict cleaning of communal areas after use.
Buy a COVID-19 Testing Kit Online UK
At Pharmacy Planet, we intend to stock COVID-19 testing kits for our customers to use at home. Whether you show symptoms or wish to know whether you have already had an immune response to the infection, you can take control of your own health by ordering a apid test.
Receiving a prompt result about whether you or a loved one has been infected with coronavirus will allow you to make essential decisions about self-isolation, shielding and social distancing.
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