Since the pandemic began, the people of the UK have come together to protect one another from coronavirus. By abiding by lockdown rules, following hygiene recommendations and adapting quickly to new safety measures over the past 12 months, the country has come a long way – and the vaccine development and subsequent rollout continues to take the country closer towards normality. But, as restrictions ease, a collective effort to stay safe remains key to moving forward in the fight against the virus.
Regular rapid testing - on top of the coronavirus vaccine rollout and current social distancing guidelines – is an essential part of the UK's roadmap to break the chain of transmission, and it's important that those advised to get tested regularly do so.
Rapid testing – also known as lateral flow testing – is crucial in the fight against coronavirus because of its ability to quickly and simply identify cases in those who show no symptoms. With around one in three people with the virus showing no symptoms, identifying cases early is key to stopping the spread of Covid-19. Just one identified case of the virus could help prevent many further instances of the virus, and thousands of positive Covid-19 cases have already been detected this way, in turn helping to prevent more cases.
Not only does regular rapid testing help to protect those around you, it is also a significant part of tackling the virus on a large scale.
Rapid tests use the same trusted technology used in at home pregnancy tests: the test kit is a handheld device that has an absorbent pad at one end and a reading window at the other. Inside, there is strip of test paper that changes colour when Covid proteins (antigens) are present.
A swab sample – taken from the nose and throat – is mixed with a solution and applied to the test strip to produce a reading. Results can be returned within 30 minutes without having to be sent to a lab, allowing those who have the virus to self-isolate immediately. Research from Public Health England (PHE) and the University of Oxford has shown that lateral flow tests are able to pick up the vast majority of cases in the most infectious stage.
You can now order a free kit containing 7 tests for postal delivery to your home. Alternatively, you can also collect kits from a number of Pharmacies.