We answer the most common questions around Covid testing

We answer the most common questions around Covid testing


Do I need to do any preparation before I take my test?

If you need a test for a fit-to-fly certificate and would like your passport number on the result certificate, please make sure you have entered these details when registering before coming in for your appointment. 

When do I get my test results?

The turnaround time of results depends on the test you order, however, you will usually get your result back within 1-2 days of your swab or blood sample getting to our laboratory unless specified otherwise. In the unlikely event that your sample requires retesting, this may delay the delivery of your result.

How do I book an in-store test and how does it work?

We offer mail, courier, home phlebotomist, and in-store testing. To order an in-store test just add the test to your basket, continue to check out, fill out your personal details, choose your nearest store and confirm the date and time of your appointment. 

If you order an in-store test then you do not have to wait for a test kit to be delivered to your address first. Simply arrive for your appointment and our friendly medical team will conduct your test for you on-site.

What is the most reliable way to book a coronavirus test?

We use Royal Mail 1st Class postage to deliver and return at-home tests. This is usually delivered the next day, however, due to high demand and COVID-19, the delivery time of this option can not be guaranteed by Royal Mail. Therefore, if you require a test urgently then we recommend using our alternative services—courier or in-store testing.

Are there any dispatch time constraints on postal test kits?

We can only dispatch postal kits on weekdays. On Fridays, we will only dispatch kits on the same day if ordered before 1 pm. If you order a postal test kit after 1pm on a Friday, or on weekends, then your test will be dispatched the following Monday. Please consider this delay when ordering any time-sensitive at-home postal test kits.

Can I make an order over the phone?

Unfortunately, we cannot complete your order over the phone. However, our website has been designed to make the ordering process as easy as possible for you. But if you do have any questions, then please contact us and our team will be happy to guide you through the process.

What does 'positive' and 'negative' mean on my result certificate?

If you receive a 'positive' result, then this means that the coronavirus spike protein was found on your sample, and are considered infected/infectious with coronavirus.

If you receive a 'negative' result, then this means that no trace of the coronavirus spike protein was found on your sample, and you can therefore be considered not infected nor infectious with coronavirus.

Are Private Coronavirus Tests qualified to provide COVID-19 testing?

Yes, we are on both the UK government's general testing providers' list and the 'Test to Release' list. This means that we not only meet the standards required for coronavirus testing, but we can provide the tests used to determine if international travellers returning to the UK qualify for a shortened 5-day quarantine period. We are also registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC)—the independent regulator of health and social care in England— and process all of our coronavirus tests through a UKAS accredited laboratory.

PCR Test

What is the PCR test for?

To detect whether you have SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in your nose or throat.

Why would I do the PCR test?

  • To know if your symptoms are being caused by a coronavirus infection.
  • To know if you have coronavirus in your nose, whether you have symptoms or not from being in contact with an infected person.
  • To know if you are infectious to others.
  • To receive a fit to fly certificate if you are travelling overseas.

What type of test is the PCR test?

It is a test that detects the RNA of coronavirus particles, which is why it is so sensitive and accurate. It does not rely on the body’s response to having been exposed to the virus previously, which can be variable.

Is the PCR test accurate?

If coronavirus is on your swab sample then it will be detected by this test. However, if it does not find coronavirus then it does not necessarily mean you don’t have it. There is up to a 30% chance that the virus may be not be picked up by the swab, depending on the swabbing technique. The best way to ensure the test is as accurate as possible is to follow the testing instructions within the home testing kit or to have a trained medical professional take the swab sample for you in-store.

This test is not the best test to check whether you are infectious, as it can continue to detect the RNA of coronavirus, weeks after you are no longer infectious.

What should I do if I get a 'positive' result from my PCR test?

Make sure you self-isolate immediately, as you may be at risk of spreading the virus to others. The NHS gives further advice on the next steps you should follow here, and if you are also feeling unwell, please visit the NHS 111 online assessment website located here.

Rapid Antigen Test

What is the Rapid Antigen test for?

To check if you are carrying the virus and are infectious to others.

What type of test is the Rapid Antigen test?

It is a swab test that detects the presence of protein particles from the COVID-19 virus. This test can be done at home or can be administered by one of our trained healthcare professional at our locations. A nasopharyngeal (nasal) swab is taken and your sample is then mixed with a fluid and tested for the presence of viral protein through a lateral flow device.

Why would I do a Rapid Antigen test?

To quickly check if you are infectious to others. With results in 15-20 minutes, this test lets you know if you are putting others at risk and alerts you as to whether you are infected with COVID-19. The antigen test is often used by workplaces or areas where many people are gathering to ensure they are not at risk of infecting each other.

Is the Rapid Antigen test accurate?

The Abbott Panbio Antigen Rapid Test that we use has shown a 98.2% sensitivity in detecting viral levels that are currently considered to be infectious (Ct values < 33). It has an overall sensitivity and specificity agreement with RT-PCR results of 97.9%

Antibody Test

What is the Antibody test for?

To check whether you have developed antibodies to the virus in your blood from a past infection or exposure.

Why would I do an Antibody test?

To see if you have already had COVID-19 and potentially have some immunity to it.

What type of test is the Antibody test?

It is a blood test and can take the form of a finger-prick or venous blood draw. You can have your blood taken by a healthcare professional or you can use one of our home-testing kits and provide a supervised finger-prick (or venous/phlebotomy) sample which you post or deliver to us. We will then process your sample in our laboratory using a gold-standard immunoassay auto-analyser, manufactured by one of the world's leading laboratory and diagnostics providers.

How sensitive is the IgG Antibody test?

This test has been shown to be between 96% and 100% sensitive in identifying antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus—if taken 14 days after onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Simply put, everyone who had an illness that was confirmed to be caused by COVID-19 developed IgG antibodies 14 days later, so there were no false negatives. 

There are many people who may have been exposed to the virus but did not become ill that may not develop antibodies at all. It should also be noted that antibody levels have been shown to drop quickly, so if the test is taken a few months after being ill it may not longer be positive.

What is the specificity of the IgG Antibody test?

It is 99.63% specific. Or, put another way, only 0.37% of over 1000 people tested who had blood taken before December 2019 (so could not have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2) showed a false-positive result. Interestingly, there were over 70 people who had other similar respiratory illnesses tested in this group and none of them showed any false positives so it seems very unlikely that this test picks up antibodies to any of the other types of coronaviruses or other viruses that cause flu-like or respiratory symptoms like covid-19. This problem of potential cross-reactivity was a very major concern about many of the cassette tests and other laboratory tests that were rushed to market.

What regulatory approvals does the IgG Antibody test have?

 This laboratory test has been evaluated by PHE, CE marked and FDA EUA approved, and is being used in UK and Europe in the millions of units in the front-line of testing efforts to track the spread of the virus through our community.

It is great to be able to provide testing developed by the world leader in developing SARS-CoV-2 testing and it is exciting to be one of the first laboratories in Europe able to make this particular test available to anyone who would like to know more about their exposure to this virus

Will I be immune to COVID-19 illness if I have a positive IgG antibody test?

We don't know yet! There is still a lot to learn about this virus and having antibodies does not mean you definitely have immunity. Also, it is not yet clear how long immunity lasts, even if there is any. So please don't think you can shed the masks, flush the alcogel and rush out to a party just because you get a positive result!

While there is still a lot of uncertainty, it is likely and that you may have at least some temporary immunity. Still, it is very important that you do not take the presence of antibodies to mean that you are able to ignore government advice about social distancing, hand washing and isolation.

Click below to view our full range of coronavirus tests

All COVID-19 Tests

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