Covid testing: PCR swab, lateral flow test and LamPORE testing – differences explained
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The LamPORE test doesn’t require a laboratory setting; the presence of Covid genetic material in the saliva is identified by “real-time loop-mediated amplification (LAMP) and is combined with “rapid, portable DNA sequencing”. At present, the NHS is trialling LamPORE tests in mobile testing units across the country. This is confirmed by the science company ZOE who are provided scientific analysis by King’s College London.
Oxford Nanopore Technologies concurred there are four LamPORE units, located in:
The Royal College of Pathologists explained LamPORE testing detects “viral RNA”.
On its own, LAMP testing has a sensitivity of 79 per cent, said the Covid Symptom Study – a King’s College London collaborator.
However, LamPORE testing “is up to 99.57 per cent, making it extremely accurate at diagnosing positive Covid cases”.
This type of testing is conducted on members of the public with or without symptoms.
A positive result from a LamPORE test will not need to be confirmed by a PCR test.
Speaking of which, the PCR test involves the use of swab twirled inside of the mouth and nose.
This type of test is required to be sent off to the laboratory, where scientists use a technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
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“Then they add probes that bind to the SARS-CoV-2 [Covid] genetic code, showing any coronavirus in your sample,” explained the Covid Symptom Study.
The result is usually produced up to three days after testing, which makes it a longer waiting time than LamPORE testing.
PCR tests are available for free on the NHS if you have any of the following Covid symptoms:
- A new, continuous cough
- A high temperature
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
The Covid Symptom Study said: “If you have any of the other 20 or more symptoms associated with COVID-19 and log them in the ZOE COVID Study app, we’ll invite you to book a PCR test.”
The symptoms associated with COVID-19:
- High temperature
- Chills or shivers
- Persistent cough
- Loss or change in smell
- Loss or change in taste
- Sore throat
- Sudden confusion, especially in older people
- Skin rash
- Changes in the mouth or tongue
- Red and sore fingers or toes
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pains
- Muscle pains
- Hoarse voice
- Skipping meals
- Abdominal pains
- Runny nose
PCR tests detect around 97 to 99 per cent of positive Covid cases when taken within the first week of symptoms appearing.
Another Covid test available to the UK public is the lateral flow test (i.e. rapid antigen test).
The lateral flow test can be self administered (which is usually less accurate), and it looks for antigens found on the surface of the virus that causes Covid.
The lateral flow test involves putting a swab on the inside of your nose and mouth.
Then, the end of the swab (that’s been inside your nose and mouth) goes into a small pot of liquid.
When you place a few drops of the liquid onto a testing device, you’ll either see one or two lines appear.
Within 30 minutes, one line symbolises a negative test result whereas two lines represent a positive Covid test result.
These tests are available at workplaces, schools, rapid test centres around the country, and selected pharmacies.
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