With the increased availability of lateral flow tests and more than 50 per cent of the population having received at least one dose of vaccine, you might be forgiven for thinking PCR testing for COVID is now a thing of the past.
However, much as we would all like to think that the end is in sight, there are still some very valid reasons why widespread PCR testing will be necessary for a while yet:
1. Confirming new cases
Whilst lateral flow tests are a useful tool – particularly for picking up asymptomatic cases – they are not as reliable as PCR tests, so if you have symptoms of COVID, including:
- a new, continuous cough
- loss of taste and/or smell
Then you should seek a PCR test immediately. In fact, if you have tested positive on a lateral flow test, you should also have a PCR test to confirm the result.
This will make certain that you get the right treatment, should treatment be necessary, as well as ensuring that government figures for new cases are accurate.
2. Slowing the spread
If your own health concerns aren’t enough to sway you towards having a PCR test, consider the wider benefits: the greater the number of undiagnosed cases in the community, the quicker the virus will spread.
So for every COVID case that is confirmed and in isolation, think of the number of additional cases that can be avoided. It is no exaggeration to say that by having a PCR test you could be saving someone’s life.
3. Assessing our progress
“Do we want to know how well vaccines are working? We’re going to have to test,” said David O’Connor, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
“How are we going to know whether the variants are more contagious? We’re going to have to test.
“How are we going to know if the vaccines are effectively controlling the variants? We’re going to have to test.”
As a nation, we have been through a lot over the past year, and all in the name of conquering this virus. Without accurate, up-to-date information about the number of cases, how do we know if our efforts are working?
Preventing the next pandemic
With new variants emerging all the time, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that we will ever be completely free from COVID. And that means we’re going to have to learn to live with it. In order to do that, however, we need to keep a close eye on its progression and find out:
- How well are new variants responding to the vaccine?
- How quickly does each variant spread?
- Are some variants more deadly than others?
“It becomes less about trying to interrupt the transmission of the disease and more about understanding, where is the virus?” says Dr Jennifer Nuzzo, head of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security. “What are we missing? And, you know, what could be coming down the road?”
So if we want life to return to some form of normality and stay there, PCR testing looks like it is here to stay.
The Mayfair GP aims to make the PCR test process as convenient as possible and can offer a mobile service, so we can come to you to do the test. We courier the test to the lab, so we can get the result to you as quickly as possible.
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.