The nose swab PCR test for COVID-19 is seen to be the most accurate and reliable test for diagnosing COVID-19, which is why the government recommend it as part of the international travel testing programme.
What is a PCR test?
A PCR test, or polymerase chain reaction test, is a test that is performed to detect genetic material from a specific organism, such as a virus. The test detects the presence of a virus if the person is infected with the virus at the time of the test and can also detect fragments of the virus even after a person is no longer infected.
What is a COVID-19 PCR Test?
A COVID-19 PCR Test is a test used to diagnose people who are currently infected with coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) which is the virus that causes COVID-19. The PCR test is known as the gold-standard test for diagnosing COVID-19 because its the most accurate and reliable test.
How does a COVID-19 PCR Test work?
There are three key steps in the COVID-19 PCR test:
- Sample collection – this is completed using a swab to collect respiratory material from your nose. A swab is a soft tip fixed to a long flexible stick, with the soft tip end of the stick being inserted into your nose. After collection, the nasal swab is sealed in a tube and then sent to our laboratories for testing
- Extraction – Once our laboratory technician has reviewed the sample, they perform the extraction process which isolates the genetic material from the sample including any virus that may be present
- PCR – The PCR step involves using special chemicals and a PCR machine to cause a reaction to occur that makes millions of copies of a small portion of the coronavirus’s genetic material. During this process, one of the chemicals produces a fluorescent light it SARS-COV-2 is present in the sample, which is detected by the PCR machine and then special software is used to interpret the signal as a positive test result
What do COVID-19 PCR test results mean?
If your employee receives a positive test result from a PCR test then it is very likely that they have COVID-19 and so they should follow the latest government advice on self-isolation. A negative test result means that your employee probably did not have COVID-19 at the time they took the test. However, it is possible to be infected with coronavirus and not have enough of the virus in your body to be detected by the test.
What are the advantages of a COVID-19 PCR test?
The main advantage of using a PCR test to test yourself for COVID-19 before you travel is down to its accuracy and reliability. It is the most accurate test currently available for COVID-19 detection.
Are there any downsides to COVID-19 PCR tests?
As the test is so accurate and can detect even very small amounts of virus material, it can continue to detect fragments of the COVID-19 virus even after your employee has recovered from COVID-19 and is no longer contagious. So, they may continue to test positive even if they had COVID in the distant past and are not at risk of spreading it to others. Test2Go use the gold-standard PCR test as part of our testing for travel programme – get in touch to find out how we can help you.