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PCR Test or Rapid Antibody Test – Which is better?

Statistics show that infection and death rates are on the decrease globally, and the UK seems to be at the forefront of easing lockdown and restrictions. But even with the global decrease of infection cases, there is one that wouldn’t decrease any time soon — Covid-19 testing.

As at this past weekend, the death toll in the UK dropped by 45% compared to this time last week which there were over 500 deaths with an additional 12,155 cases bringing the total infected cases to 1,617,327. In the last month, over 58,245 people have lost their lives to the virus. We also can’t forget the anti-lockdown protests that are currently going on in the streets of London.

Medical groups in the UK have emphasised that Rapid antibody tests results would be approved as clearance to return to work because PCR tests are the standard acceptable test results. Meanwhile, some countries accept Rapid antibody tests as satisfactory proof of COVID status.

Mechanics of COVID-19 test kits

RT PCR test kits

In the UK, the RT PCR (Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction) based test which is similar to At-home std test is the most widely used method to Identify COVID-19 in fluid samples gotten from swabs taken from individual’s throat or nose suspected to be infected. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved Rapid test kits are used to identify COVID-19 antibodies in the blood samples of suspected carriers.

From the name ‘rapid’, it is clear that Rapid test kits produce faster results than RT-PCR test kits but WHO establishes PCR as a confirmatory test because of its molecular identification attributes.

According to the Francis Crick Institute, carrying out a PCR test is achieved in the following steps;
  • Sample collection

When collecting samples, it is crucial that you adhere to CDC guidelines and properly seal the carrier tube in a cold containment, since the virus thrives in a cold environment. This is accompanied by a Laboratory request form. The sample is usually a swap from the back of the individual’s throat.

  • Data Entry

The Laboratory information system is the database in which all data pertaining to infectious disease samples are stored. Each sample collected is first entered here when it gets to the research institute after which they are transported to the Special Pathogens Laboratory for further investigation ( bio safety level 2).

  • Viral Neutralisation (Virus inactivation)

Neutralisation means that the Virus is made ineffective and loses its ability to infect. Like in the case of Influenza virus, this was done by Nitrogen Gas Plasma Treatment.

  • Use of Reagents

Application of probes, enzymes and primers to foster identification of the pathogen.

  • Identification

At this stage, the RNA structure of the virus is identified.

  • Validation and submission

At this point, results are compiled and data submitted to the Head of the department. The above steps could take as little as 24 hours or more with an identification accuracy of over 97% for as low as £129.

Rapid antibody test

Unlike the RT PCR test, the Rapid antibody test requires the patient’s blood. The human body responds to viral infections by producing antibodies which are of two types —the early response Immunoglobulin M and the late response Immunoglobulin G. These antibodies, which are located in the blood are then identified by the Rapid antibody test usually 4 or more days after infection make the process ineffective against active infection.

In as little as 15 to 45 minutes, your result can be ready. Let’s take a look at the simple steps involved in this process;

  • Sample collection- Collect 10-20ul of a blood sample from the person following CDC guidelines.
  • Processing- Add blood sample to the test card available in the Kit case.

-2 to 3 drops of sample buffer is them added.

-Then after about 15 minutes, you can use the indicators on the case to determine your result.

Using the Last response Immunoglobulin G would mean that you have to wait for between 10 to 14 days after infection, which is a relatively long period before you get results. If the stipulated delay time isn’t adhered to, the result would be a false negative which backs the reason why the Department of Health chooses the more reliable PCR technique.

Pricing of the Rapid antibody test is relatively more affordable than that of the PCR. For as little as £299 you can get a pack of 40 kits. The relevance of Rapid test kits isn’t diminishing any time soon because of its accessibility and fast results.

In most cases, the PCR kit will be used alongside the Rapid antibody kit where patients who are tested positive fall sick and require a confirmatory test.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and you don’t know which to choose, go for the PCR test to avoid false-negative results. Your health provider would probably give you this same advice so, ensure you strictly adhere and don’t fail to book your appointment for RT PCR test in London. You can also reach out to us today at Walk-in Clinic London for more information.

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Nicholas Hartley

Nicholas Hartley is a professional blogger with much curiosity in reading and gathering information. He has a great interest in education, health and lifestyle and wants to aware the people through his well-curated blogs and articles.

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