So, What Exactly Is Involved In a Covid-19 Test?


Whilst the symptoms of Coronavirus are now well-known to many, they can also be mistaken for other illnesses like the Flu, chest infections and respiratory disorders. The fact is that when you find yourself with a symptom or two, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you have Covid-19.

This is where Coronavirus testing kits come in. At the point of writing, there are two known types of test, which we’ll look into shortly, however, their availability is not universal from country to country, so you’ll need to check whether they’re accessible where you are. So, to provide some clarity on the matter, we now look at Covid-19 testing kits, the types that are available and how the tests are carried out.

Test Type 1 - The Antibody Test

The first type we look at is known as an antibody test (a.ka. A serological test) and it’s designed to check for the presence of Coronavirus antibodies. This will determine whether the person in question has had the virus previously and has since recovered from it and it’s a test that will tell you if you have some immunity to the illness.

There are two ways in which the antibody test is administered, with the first being via an oral swab that tests whether you have antibodies in your bloodstream. This particular test won’t pick up whether you’ve had Covid-19 in the past, but it will tell you that you have antibodies in your system.

The Pin-Prick Test

A very similar Coronavirus antibody test can tell you if you have previously had the illness, but it requires a pinprick test, where a small sample of blood is taken. The good thing about this version of the test is that it produces a quick result, whereas the swab variant can take some time.

This highly-accurate antibody test is seen as the best and most efficient way of ensuring that people are safe to re-enter the workplace. It’s not yet known how much immunity you have to Covid-19 after having it already - or indeed how many strains there are - but it is a good indication of what threat you pose to others.

Test Type 2 - The Antigen Test

The other type of Covid-19 test in circulation is what’s known as an antigen test. The term ‘antigen’ describes a viral structure that is known to trigger the body’s immune response to infection. Known to be around 98% accurate, this test can determine whether you’ve become infected - even before the body begins producing antibodies.

While antibodies can take a few days to be detectable in the bloodstream - therefore potentially resulting in a false negative - an antigen test can detect infection pretty much as soon as someone has contracted the disease.

Antigen tests are also effective in detecting other illnesses like flu, malaria and even HIV. These tests have been developed thanks largely to government grants, however, their availability does vary from country to country.

As can be seen in this Guardian Newspaper article, countries like the US and the UK have begun testing on a wholesale basis. Despite a slow start, the US and the UK have now really got their act together with regards to testing, with around 1.2m people having so far been tested in the UK and 10.2m in the United States.

A War of Attrition

Defeating Covid-19 is no small task, but with effective testing in place around the world, the job of fighting it becomes that much easier. Testing not only provides individuals with the information they need to know whether to self-isolate or quarantine themselves, but the data can also be collated and used for more effective strategies to be created.

If you’re an individual or organisation looking for the most up-to-date and accurate data about the Coronavirus, we recommend you head over to where you’ll find a comprehensive range of real-time data presented in easy-to-read graphs, charts and other illustrations.

There’s a dearth of accurate information in the public about Covid-19 and we aim to change that fact by providing up-to-the-minute data about the pandemic so that people and organisations are working with the information they can trust. Check back with us soon or why not sign up to our free subscription service which can be found at the bottom of our home page.

Thanks for reading. We hope you find it useful in protecting yourself during these difficult times.