Coronavirus PCR Swab Test
This is a laboratory swab test to confirm whether you have a current COVID-19 infection or not. Find out more about the Coronavirus PCR Swab Test.
Who we are
Medichecks is a leading private testing company working with UKAS accredited laboratories to bring a private COVID-19 current infection test to individuals and companies throughout the UK. If you want coronavirus testing information please read our FAQs below.
Looking for a Coronavirus Antibody Blood Test?
Important – posting your sample to the lab
Royal Mail is not accepting any Covid-19 samples at post office counters or non-priority postboxes. All samples must be posted in a priority postbox.
This is because the postal workers collecting from priority postboxes have the proper PPE (personal protective equipment) in order to safely handle the samples. Your return envelope will have a sticker identifying it as a Covid-19 sample.
Coronavirus PCR FAQs
A Coronavirus PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test is a swab test that detects the presence of the genetic material in coronavirus called RNA. If this RNA is detected it will indicate that you have a current COVID-19 infection. This throat and nose swab test can be performed by an individual on themselves, or by a healthcare professional. The sample is then analysed at an accredited laboratory and results are delivered securely online.
There are many instances in which you may want to take a Coronavirus PCR test to confirm whether or not you are currently infected with COVID-19. This could be because you are returning to work or education or visiting family members and want to make sure it is safe to do so. You may also have been requested to take this test by your employer.
The swab sample is taken by carefully inserting the swab into the back of the throat and rubbing it side-to-side across the tonsils and back of the mouth, then inserting it into the nose horizontally and rotating 5 times and waiting for 5-10 seconds before removing. Detailed instructions on how to take your swab sample are provided with the sample collection kit.
Results are usually available within 48 hours of the sample being received by the laboratory, although this turnaround time is not guaranteed.
The sample is stable in the post for up to 7 days.
Coronavirus PCR tests rarely fail. Failures usually occur if the swab does not contact enough of the nose or throat lining to pick up an RNA sample, or if the sample is not labelled or properly prepared for transit through the post.
The test is highly accurate providing the swab sample is taken well and has genetic material from the virus on it. The test detects 100% of samples known to contain the virus in laboratory testing. How well a swab is taken varies, and this can affect the accuracy of the test. Take the time to watch our video on how to take your swab to ensure that you get an accurate result.
This test will confirm whether or not you have a current COVID-19 infection, but we cannot guarantee you will receive your results before your date of departure – particularly if you need to take the test within a few days of travel. We do not provide certificates indicating fitness to travel with this test.
Medichecks provides a postal service for its Covid-19 swab tests – you can buy a test online for delivery to any UK address and it should arrive in the next working day or two. If you want a quicker delivery option, we offer a Royal Mail Tracked 24 service for an additional charge.
Take your own sample at home by following the instructions in the kit carefully and post it back to the lab using your nearest priority post box. There’s no need to book an appointment or travel to a testing centre. Your results should be ready in your online Medichecks dashboard within 48 hours of receipt of your sample by the lab.
Coronavirus PCR Swab Test result FAQs
The result will show either that COVID-19 RNA is ‘detected’ or ‘not detected’.
A positive result means that the genetic material in coronavirus (RNA) has been detected in the body, indicating a current COVID-19 infection.
A negative result means that RNA has not been detected in the body, and therefore there is not a current COVID-19 infection.
All Coronavirus PCR tests might give a negative result in someone who has a current COVID-19 infection. This is because the PCR swab must make contact with the virus – so if the body is not shedding the virus in the nose or throat, or if the swab misses the area with the virus, a negative result will be returned. This can affect up to 30% of people who have the infection and take the test. This issue affects all coronavirus PCR tests including those from other providers (including the NHS).
Our laboratory is required to inform Public Health England of all positive coronavirus PCR results in accordance with the Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010. This requirement covers a range of notifiable infectious diseases that can have serious consequences for public health, including COVID-19. Public Health England may ask Medichecks to provide your contact details to them so that they can contact you to arrange testing of people that you have been in contact with.
No, a positive result does not mean you have immunity to COVID-19. A positive result will indicate that you have a current COVID-19 infection. A Coronavirus Antibody Test will confirm whether you have antibodies present in the body as the result of a previous COVID-19 infection. However, we do not yet know whether the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in the blood provides any lasting immunity or protection from future infection.
We are awaiting guidelines for the deployment of the coronavirus vaccine. When someone has a positive PCR test the body’s immune system will already be in the process of producing antibodies, and there will be plenty of viral protein available for the immune system to react to. So vaccinating at the same time as having active coronavirus infection is unlikely to help with the immune response. In addition, vaccination is usually best delayed until any short term illness has passed, so if someone has an active coronavirus infection it is unlikely that vaccination would be recommended.
We’re a medically-led company with a team of qualified doctors and pathology experts.
Questions? Let us help
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