Frequently asked questions

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms will vary for everyone, but some of the most common include:

·      Fever
·      Dry cough
·      Mild breathing difficulty
·      Gastrointestinal issues
·      Diarrhoea
·      General body aches

Symptoms may not appear for up to 14 days after you have become infected with the virus. This means that it is possible to spread the virus without having any symptoms. For more information on COVID-19, please visit the NHS, and WHO websites. If you are suffering from any COVID-19 symptoms, you can either visit the JDoc365 Centre at Hayes Crescent NW11, or opt for our convenient At-Home testing service instead.

When should you have a coronavirus test?

You should have a COVID-19 PCR test if you currently have symptoms of coronavirus, or may have been in contact with someone who has subsequently tested positive. You may also need to have a test if you are planning to travel to a country that requires a Fit to Fly Certificate and may choose to have a test if you wish to reduce the risk of infection when visiting those at risk. In addition some places of work are insisting on swabbing their employees on a regular basis to reduce the risk of transferring the virus within the workplace.

How reliable is the PCR test?

The PCR test is the most commonly used Covid test. It amplifies the viral genetic material and therefore can pick up very small amounts of the virus. If you are suffering from any COVID related symptoms, we would recommend booking a PCR test at either the JDoc365 Centre at Hayes Crescent NW11 or opt for an At-Home PCR test instead.

How reliable is the Antigen test?

An antigen is a substance that is recognised by your body’s immune system as foreign, which in turn can generate proteins called antibodies that specifically recognise and act against that antigen.

As Antigen tests do not amplify the viral DNA like a PCR test, they are less sensitive in detecting small traces of the COVID-19 virus. For this reason we advise use of this test in people who are not currently suffering from any COVID symptoms, although it will pick up the virus in most cases.

What should I do if I test positive?

If you test positive, you will receive a phone call from the supervising medical practice explaining your results and must self-isolate in accordance with national guidance, avoiding contact with others and remaining hydrated. Most cases of COVID-19 are mild, and recovery only takes a few days. If you have any concerns, speak to your healthcare practitioner for further advice.

What if I test positive, but do not display any symptoms?

There are 2 different explanations for this. Either you are infected and may begin to display symptoms in the next few days, or you are infected but are asymptomatic (you will not display symptoms). In both cases, you should treat it as though you are positive for the virus and should follow the appropriate healthcare guidelines and self-isolate in accordance to national guidance. Speak to your healthcare practitioner for further advice if necessary.

What should I do if I think I have had Coronavirus, but no longer have symptoms?

If you think you have had coronavirus, you should choose the Antibody Test. The coronavirus antibody test will show you if you have previously had COVID-19 as you will have IgG antibodies. The antibody test is best taken 14 days or more after the first onset of symptoms. If you test positive on the antibody test it does not necessarily mean you are immune, and not everybody will develop antibodies, so you should continue to follow government guidelines on social distancing.If someone in your household has tested positive and currently has symptoms but you do not, you should have an Antigen test. This is because you can be infectious before the onset of symptoms and therefore you may have COVID-19.

How do I book a test?

You can book a test through our simple online booking system and can change your appointment date/time up to 24 hours before the appointment.

If you have any trouble accessing your booking, you can contact our team on info@expresscovidtest.co.uk

Can I come to a centre if I am currently experiencing symptoms?

If you are experiencing symptoms, you will need to self-isolate at home in line with government guidelines and either opt for our At-Home Testing service or visit the Express Covid Test centre at JDoc365, which has made specific provisions for patients with symptoms to attend.

Can pregnant or feeding women be tested?

Yes, there is no harm to the mother or baby when performing a test.

Do you provide Fit to Fly Certificates?

For some countries it can also be used to avoid the imposed quarantine rules upon landing. ​In the context of COVID-19, a GP will need to verify that you are not experiencing any of the common symptoms of COVID-19 and that you have a negative COVID RT- PCR test result in order issue a COVID-19 Fit to Fly travel certificate on this basis. A fit to fly medical certificate is a GP medical certificate which states that you are well enough to fly. Some countries and airlines are making this mandatory as part of their new COVID-19 immigration processes.

For some countries it can also be used to avoid the imposed quarantine rules upon landing. ​In the context of COVID-19 a GP will need to verify that you are not experiencing any of the common symptoms of COVID-19 in keeping with UK government guidance and that you have a negative COVID RT- PCR test result in order issue a COVID-19 Fit to Fly travel certificate on this basis. Click here to find out more and purchase your Fit to Fly Certificate.

What is the difference between Antigen and PCR testing?

An antigen is a protein on the outside of a virus or bacteria that is recognised by your body’s immune system, which in turn can generate proteins called antibodies that specifically recognise and act against that antigen.

One of the main advantages of Antigen tests, is that they can produce a result in approximately 90 minutes. The Antigen testing system we use has been approved for COVID-19 testing by the World Health Organisation and is particularly stable and reliable, producing highly accurate results.

As Antigen tests do not amplify the viral DNA like a PCR test, they are less sensitive in detecting small traces of the COVID-19 virus. For this reason we advise use of this test in people who are not currently suffering from any COVID symptoms, although it will pick up the virus in most cases.

PCR (polymerase chain reaction) is a test to assess a patient’s sample for the presence of particular genetic material. This type of test is frequently used in medicine to help doctors diagnose the presence of a viral or fungal material in a patient’s sample.

COVID PCR tests  detect genetic material from the SARS-Cov-2 virus—or the ‘COVID-19 virus' RNA, helping to diagnose an active COVID-19 infection.This differs from the Antigen tests, which, test for the virus' proteins.  PCR tests are approved for use by Public Health England and are suitable for those looking for a “Fit to Fly” test for travel purposes.

Will I get a refund on my fit to fly test booking if my flight is cancelled due to COVID restrictions

We will offer a full refund less £25 admin fee on presentation of confirmation from the airline that the flight has been cancelled due to COVID restrictions.

How accurate are your tests?

As with any diagnostic test there is obviously a margin of error, which may result in either a false positive or a false negative reading.

If the medical professional reviewing your result feels the test result is unexpected, in some instances we may suggest a repeat test on the same day, using a different technology, or retesting several days after the initial test.

The manufacturer of our Antibody and Antigen testing machine has been approved by The World Health Organisation and the Department of Health in the United Kingdom. The machine is CE marked and is ISO registered.

Our PCR tests are carried out either at the point of testing, or at an approved UK registered laboratory using technology currently considered to be the gold standard in covid testing.

What does my antigen test result mean?

The antigen test analyser generates a Cut Off Index (COI), which gives an indication of how much of the virus it has detected from your swab. The manufacturers of our Antigen machine have set a Cut Off Index above 1 to be interpreted as a positive test.

If your COI is between 1 and 2 it is important to know whether your viral levels are rising or falling and whether you are at the start or end of the infection. In this instance, we would take into account other factors, such any symptoms you may be experiencing at the time of your test and whether you have been in contact with others who have tested positive with Covid-19 when interpreting your result.

In some cases, It may be useful to repeat the test three days later to ascertain whether your COI has increased or decreased. No test is 100% accurate and if you; anyone in your household or close contact, has or develops covid symptoms, please follow governmental guidance regarding self isolation.

What happens if I test positive for COVID-19 and have had a vaccine?

If you have had a vaccine and test positive for COVID-19 then the government requires you to have a 2nd confirmatory test and a blood test for antibodies. The samples will be processed by the UK government and you will not be charged.

What is the difference between the Nucleocapsid and Spike Protein Antibody tests?

The Nucleocapsid test will tell you if you have developed antibodies after having the Covid-19 infection in the past. It will not detect antibodies acquired as a result of the vaccine. The result will be either positive or negative and does not provide a level of antibodies. This is a finger prick test with results delivered in approximately 90 minutes*. We recommend that you have this test at least 3 weeks after you think you have had the virus.

The Spike Protein Antibody test assesses the level of antibodies to the Covid-19 spike protein which may be present after having the vaccine and/or Covid-19 infection. This test alone will not identify how the antibodies were acquired. This is a venous blood test with results delivered within 24-36 hours.
This is a quantitative test which gives you a measure of the level of the antibodies you have to the spike protein, which is the target of many vaccines including Pfizer, Astrazeneca and Moderna. Antibody levels can be tracked over time and could play a role in establishing vaccine efficacy and vaccine-induced immune response.We recommend that you have this test no sooner than 3 weeks after your first vaccine. This test can be repeated 1 week after your final vaccine.

What is the benefit of the combined test?

This blood test will help determine whether you have developed antibodies as a result of the vaccine or a previous Covid-19 infection with results delivered within 24-36 hours.

A positive Spike Antibody test and a negative Nucleocapsid Antibody test suggests vaccine acquired antibodies, rather than those acquired as a result of a previous Covid19 infection.

A positive Spike Antibody test and a positive Nucleocapsid Antibody test suggests these antibodies were acquired after having the Covid-19 infection, either with or without previous vaccination.

We recommend that you have this test no sooner than 3 weeks after your first vaccine. This test can be repeated 1 week after your final vaccine.Please note, appointments for a venous antibody blood test for a child under the age of 12 must be discussed prior to booking. Please contact us by telephone on 0208 238 1900 prior to booking.  

Previous Covid viral infection only.
Previous Covid vaccination only, with no infection
IgG Nucleocapsid antibody
Positive
Negative
IgG Spike Protein Antibody
Positive
Positive
What does it mean if I have a negative result to the Spike Protein test?

People will have very different responses to vaccines, and some will remain susceptible to the Covid virus despite vaccination. However, it has been shown that vaccines usually prevent more severe disease and hospitalisation. The protection of any vaccine will normally wear off over time. However, some people get the vaccine it just does not work well enough.

It is difficult to compare the results of a randomised trial with real life.  In trials, volunteers are carefully screened before taking part and there is a group of people in the trial who will receive a placebo to allow comparison with the vaccine. In real life people having a vaccine are not screened in the same way and the population being vaccinated may be much older than the average trial volunteer. This in turn may mean there is less immunological response and so fewer antibodies will be detected.

Following Covid infection, the length of time you have antibodies to the Covid virus will vary. However, a person who has been infected with Covid may also develop memory T and B cells. These are not antibodies but blood cells that may remain in your system longer than antibodies themselves and help with rapid production of antibodies if you are exposed to the virus again. These immune responses have also been seen after Covid vaccination and so a negative spike protein result does not necessarily mean that you have derived no benefit from being vaccinated.

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