Testing, testing! The importance of a Covid-19 PCR test

PCR test

As schools have gone back and a gradual return to the workplace is imminent, more and more people are conducting lateral flow Covid tests on a regular basis. And they can do this from the comfort of their own home.

So now that we are able to test ourselves, has the clinician-led PCR test become redundant? Why would we still make the journey to a testing centre if we could carry out a test ourselves and get the results in half an hour?

More sensitive tests

While the lateral flow tests are quick and convenient, they simply aren’t as sensitive as the PCR tests. They can be great for picking up asymptomatic cases, and stopping the spread that way. But if you’ve got Covid symptoms, even if your lateral flow test gives a negative result, you should have a PCR test just to make sure.

Confirmation of a positive result

Similarly, if your lateral flow test result comes back positive, whether you are symptomatic or not, you should seek confirmation through a PCR test.

Although not common, there have been cases of lateral flow tests producing a ‘false positive’ result. This is a particular risk when the test is carried out at home, rather than under supervision at school or in the workplace.

If a positive lateral flow test result is followed by a negative PCR result, this prevents the need for ten days’ isolation. So a confirmatory test is definitely worthwhile.

If, however, your PCR test result comes back positive, you and your household will need to quarantine for ten days. But you will be exempt from having to carry out anymore tests for the next 90 days – unless you develop new Covid symptoms in that time.

Making a PCR test convenient

There’s no doubt that the ability to perform the test in your own home makes lateral flow testing a very attractive option. And regular lateral flow tests will help to control the spread of the virus. The test is great at picking up on cases with the highest viral load, which are thought to be the most contagious.

But if you are symptomatic, or if your lateral flow result comes back positive, you will need to undergo a confirmatory PCR test. This can seem very unappealing. If you are feeling unwell, the last thing you want is to have to go out to a test centre and wait in line.

The Mayfair GP aims to make the PCR test process as convenient as possible. We offer a mobile service, so we can come to you to conduct the test, and then courier it to the lab in order to get the results through quickly.

We also offer testing for recent arrivals to the UK – both the mandatory day 2 and 8 testing, and the 5-day test to release scheme.

For more information or to book a PCR test at your convenience, please contact us via email at info@themayfairgp.com.