The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the globe for some time now. Medical experts and scientists have spent sleepless nights trying to figure out the origin and cause of the COVID-19 virus.

Luckily, researchers have developed multiple ways to detect SARS-Cov-2, the virus responsible for causing COVID-19. For instance, scientists in the UK have developed rapid and dependable testing technology, namely the RT PCR test London and the rapid antigen test London. These tests are based on a technique that gives fast and highly accurate results.

What is a lateral flow?

The lateral flow is a COVID-19 test, also called immunochromatographic assay. This device is less complicated than other equipment used for COVID-19 testing. It can detect the presence of a target substance in a fluid sample in a simple and less complicated way.

Generally, this test is administered to people who do not exhibit the symptoms of COVID-19 but can still turn out to be infectious. In the UK,  most people prefer the rapid antigen test London to the RT PCR test London as it’s cheaper and quicker to give you the results. However, the government advocates for the RT PCR test in London especially when travelling, as it’s highly accurate.

What is a PCR?

Polymerase Chain reaction (PCR) is a test that detects the genetic material of a specific organism, such as the HIV or covid-19 virus. Swab samples are collected from your nasal passage, saliva, or throat for this test.

The lab technician amplifies the samples to detect the SAR-COV-2 virus. If the SAR-COV-2 virus is detected, that means that you are COVID-19 positive or you were previously infected with the virus.

This test has been proven to be more accurate than the rapid antigen test in London. Hence the UK government considers it the gold standard test for testing COVID-19 when returning from an overseas country or when certified results are required of you.

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The Difference Between Lateral Flow and PCR

The UK government has approved the two tests for testing the COVID-19 virus- lateral flow and PCR. Below we look at the main difference between these two tests:

  • Cost

The PCR test tends to be more expensive, ranging between £65 to £85 in retail stores and about £200 when taken in private clinics.

Comparably, lateral flow tests are priced much lower, with prices starting from £5 to £30 in most retail stores.

  • How the test is done

Swab samples are taken from the nasal passage, saliva, or throat for both tests.

When using the RT PCR test in London, the samples require lab analysis and results are sent back to the customer mainly via email. Depending on lab backlogs, it may take a few days (2-3 days) before you get the results.

The lateral flow test provides rapid results using a device pretty similar to a pregnancy test. You will need to read the instructions on the test kit carefully before you do the test.

Generally, the throat or nose swab is placed in a tube containing a specific liquid. The liquid is then squeezed into a test strip that provides results within the specified time on the test kit instructions.

You must wait the time shown on the lateral flow test kit instructions before reading the results. Note that leaving the test longer than the specified time may affect the accuracy of the results. You can take the lateral test at home or your workplace as it doesn’t need lab analysis.

  • Who takes the test?

The Lateral flow test is mainly used to detect the SAR-COV-2 virus in people who don’t exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19. It has helped curb the spread of the virus as it detects the virus in a person even if they do not show any signs. On the other hand, the PCR is used to test people who have exhibited clear symptoms of covid-19.