COVID-19 RT-qPCR & LFT Tests
There are a lot of companies offering private DIY testing, but how good are they? Many of the tests being sold may be too weak to detect fresh infections which can lead to incorrect results and false levels of reassurance.
A COVID-19 LFT test can provide results quickly, however qPCR, the technique used by MTD, is considered the gold standard for COVID-19 testing as it provides a more definitive answer as to whether an individual has the virus in their body.
qPCR COVID-19 tests detect the genetic material of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, a lateral flow antigen test (LFT) detects proteins within or on the virus.
Samples are collected in the same way for both LFT and q-PCR tests. Q-PCR tests need to be sent to a laboratory for analysis however LFT tests do not need to be sent to a laboratory and can be analysed in a process that takes as little as 15 minutes. LFT’s are currently being used for rapid mass testing.
The compromise for the convenience and speed of an LFT COVID-19 test is specificity. qPCR tests are capable of detecting low infection levels at an early stage in the infections growth. LFT’s require a higher viral load in the sample to yield a positive result. As a result, someone who tests negative with a LFT test may actually have an active COVID-19 infection, but there are too few virus particles present in the sample to register positive on the test. That same person may take another LFT test the next day and get a positive result, simply because they have more of the virus in their system.
In fact, in situations where LFT’s are used for rapid screening, negative results often come with the stipulation that the negative result should be sent to a laboratory for confirmatory qPCR testing to verify if the individual is virus-free. A recent article in The Times discusses this in more depth.
You can rest assured that the MTD Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) by RTqPCR test is approved by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and is the ‘gold standard’ — the highest sensitivity technique.
Our quick reference guide below outlines the differences between RT-qPCR (the gold standard) and LFT rapid testing, so you can make a more informed decision before choosing which test to buy.
What’s the difference between RT-qPCR and Lateral Flow Tests?
1. Diagnostic testing and screening for SARS-CoV-2, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. 2. Options for the use of rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 in the EU/EEA and the UK: Technical Report, European Centre of Disease Prevention And Control. 3. International Journal of Infectious Diseases, vol 99, pages 190-192 (October 2020). 4. A preliminary evaluation from Porton Down and Oxford University† throws little light on its performance in asymptomatic people or in the field. It suggests the test misses between one in two and one in four cases. The false positive rate of 0.6% means that at the current prevalence in Liverpool, for every person found truly positive, at least one other may be wrongly required to self-isolate. As prevalence drops, this will become much worse.” Mass testing for covid-19 in the UK, BMJ 2020; 371 doi: 5. Scientists urge caution on use of lateral flow tests to screen for Covid-19: Chemistry World, 18th November 2020. 6. Preliminary report from the Joint PHE Porton Down & University of Oxford SARS-CoV-2 test development and validation cell: rapid evaluation of lateral flow viral antigen detection devices (LFDs) for mass community testing. 8 Nov 2020. † Preliminary report from the Joint PHE Porton Down & University of Oxford SARS-CoV-2 test development and validation cell: rapid evaluation of lateral flow viral antigen detection devices (LFDs) for mass community testing. 8 Nov 2020. 7. UK abandons school Covid monitoring as testing devices divide public health scientists: Chemistry World, 25th January 2021.
COVID-19 PCR Testing for Travel
Test to Release – Day 5 of self-isolation
You can reduce your time in quarantine with a Test to Release PCR test to be taken on day 5 of your self-isolation. If your result is negative, you can exit self-isolation early.
MANDATORY ARRIVALS TESTING
Day 2 and Day 8 Testing During Quarantine
For for all International arrivals into England, mandatory COVID-19 PCR tests to be taken on Day 2 and Day 8 of quarantine.
Diagnostic COVID-19 PCR Testing
DIAGNOSTIC CORONAVIRUS TESTING
COVID-19 PCR Testing for Individuals
Be sure of your COVID status before visiting friends or family. MTD provide COVID testing results in as little as 24hrs, for all possible occasions where a COVID-19 q-PCR test may be needed.
COVID-19 PCR Workplace Testing
WORKPLACE PCR TESTING
COVID-19 PCR Testing for Businesses
MTD offer comprehensive, scalable, bespoke COVID-19 q-PCR diagnostic testing either as a one off exercise or regular testing to monitor and control the spread of the virus for all sectors. This allows your employees to safely return to work and keeps your workforce COVID free.