What are the different types of tests available?
- At the start of the pandemic, PCR was the only option available to test for SARS-COV-2. Highly accurate and reliable, it has remained the go-to method for virus testing to date. The PCR (polymerase chain reaction) Antigen test is a laboratory processed swab test that detects the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antigen traces in the human body and therefore is designed to know whether or not at the point of testing if someone has the virus in their system and therefore has COVID-19. This testing method is vital for businesses to utilise so that they can know quickly if any asymptomatic employee within their workplace has returned a positive result. To understand more about the PCR Antigen tests, click here.
- The other test that is often widely talked about is the Antibody test. Also requiring lab processing, the antibody tests indicates whether someone is likely to have already had Covid-19. In the context of workplace testing, it is not recommended to be used to prevent outbreaks, however as a way to understand how the virus is spreading or any instances of reoccurrence.
- Rapid Tests are also gaining in prominence recently and there are a few options available in the UK. Our in-depth analysis looks at the 4 main types of Rapid Tests; LAMP without RNA extraction, Covid-Nudge and Lateral Flow tests and compares them to the current Gold Standard test; the PCR Antigen Test.
What tests are recommended for businesses?
- We recommend PCR antigen testing as the gold standard, quick and accurate way of identifying any trace of current Covid-19 infection in the body. The PCR Antigen tests for Covid-19 allows businesses to detect if any employee in their workplace has the virus in their system at the point of which the test is administered. If positive, employers can take immediate steps to ensure that the virus is contained and not allowed to spread within the business.
- Read our analysis on the new and emerging Rapid Tests and the implications they have for workplace testing here.
What is Pool Testing?
- Pool testing, also known as batch testing, is a technique for assessing the presence of Covid-19 antigens in a number of individuals (a pool). Pool testing combines samples from a number of people (usually in batches of ten) and tests them together, thus saving on the time it takes to process results and resources. Where a positive batch is identified, the samples are then processed individually.
- We recommend Pool testing as a way for employers to get gold-standard PCR testing for their workplaces whilst also saving money.
- Read more about Pool Testing at Covid Testing Network and how to get in touch with our Account managers.
How does the testing process work?
- First, we agree with you the volume and frequency of tests you require and where the tests need to be sent.
- Using our guide sheets, employees can self-administer our swab testing kits and take samples from the throat and nose and carefully place them into a sealed tube. While it is possible for employees to self swab, in order to ensure the samples are of a high quality, we recommend that the swabbing process is supervised by an Occupational Health specialist.
- You arrange to get the swab samples back to the lab that is testing you. This is usually done through a courier and our team will guide you through the details beforehand.
- Results will be returned to you electronically according to the time frame and turnaround time that we have agreed with you. We offer turnaround times from as short a timeframe as 24 hours and we can work through a timing plan of what makes the most sense for your business, in order to keep your workplace and employees as safe as possible.
- Find out more about the process here.
Why is asymptomatic testing important for businesses?
In line with government guidelines, if any employee of a business is displaying symptoms of Covid-19 that are advised by the NHS and PHE, they should be self-isolating and should be accessing a PCR Antigen test through NHS Test and Trace.
Employees that are asymptomatic may potentially carry the virus but never develop the symptoms or be in a pre-symptomatic stage, whereby symptoms haven’t developed yet. Since these employees could still transmit the virus and cause a potential outbreak in a workplace environment, regular asymptomatic testing is aimed at identifying these individuals who are carriers of the virus and may not be aware and then isolating them away from the workplace.
Routine PCR antigen testing of a workplace allows companies to be able to reassure employees of their safety as well as act swiftly for the possibility that a positive test is returned for an asymptomatic employee.
What risks are there with the PCR Antigen test?
- The PCR antigen test is extremely accurate, especially when conducted by a healthcare professional or supervised by an occupational health specialist, producing accuracy figures of over 99%.
- Therefore, if the virus is present, even in an asymptomatic employee, it is almost guaranteed to be detected. False positives can occur with the test, however this is typically the result of poor lab or sample handling. Covid Testing Network partners with a network of accredited laboratories who are expert in handling Covid-19 samples and false results are rare.
How can businesses develop an employee Covid-19 Testing Plan?
- It is vital that before beginning to test employees, businesses create a strategic plan covering all eventualities for their employees. A Covid-19 testing plan for their industry would need to cover why testing is required, which testing method to use, how testing will be carried out and how often testing employees would occur, as well as planning for the scenarios in which different results could affect their employees and business as a whole.
- It is widely recommended to engage the services of an Occupational Health specialist prior to beginning testing for the workplace to ensure that the guidelines are followed and employees are reassured as to the processes designed to keep them safe.
- Our handy guide covers what employers need to consider in order to set up their own testing programme.
- Covid Testing Network works in partnership with a number of Occupational Health specialists and can guide you to one that will best suit the requirements for your business.
How often do employees need to be tested?
- Typically, it is suggested that all employees should be tested at least once every 2 weeks due to the window of infection. The exact specifications of how regularly testing should occur and the volume of testing are two extremely significant factors to consider that will vary across industries.
- In some industries, such as the Entertainment industry or the Food and Drink Manufacturing and Processing industries, where social distancing is difficult, some businesses choose to test daily and receive results for their employees within 24 hours.
How much does workplace testing cost?
- The cost of putting together a workplace testing package depends on a number of factors, including the number of people who need testing, the number of locations that tests need to be sent to, and how often they need testing. The cost can be reduced significantly through the use of pool testing, whereby swabs are combined and tested together in order to save both time and resources.
- You can also use our handy calculator for businesses of 200+ employees to get an instant email quote.
How long does it take for results to come back?
- Covid Testing Network can return results within 24 hours from when samples arrive at the lab.
- The majority of our clients opt to work with us on a 24-hour turnaround basis, but we also work on plans with different timings.
What sectors do Covid Testing Network specialise in?
- Covid Testing Network are proud to be sector agnostic and we work with clients across many industries including Film & Media, Food & Drink, Manufacturing & Processing, Construction & Engineering, Defence and Retail.
- We are proud to be a supplier for the Department of Health and Social Care, conducting testing in many health services such as Care homes, testing for vulnerable communities and testing for localised outbreaks.
What if I don't want to test all my employees?
- The number of employees you test, how often and in which locations is completely up to you.
- We can work with you to create a plan for the employees who most require testing and to work out a plan to conduct the testing. You can read our guide here on how to set up a testing plan.
What if I don't want to commit to a regular testing plan?
- Contact us in the first instance as we can work with you to create an ad-hoc programme.
- We can send you a pre-paid batch of tests that you can use at your discretion, whenever you feel is required, over a period of 12 weeks.
Who are Covid Testing Network?
- You can read all about how we started here.
- Covid Testing Network are a network of laboratories around the UK who are committed to aiding the UK in testing the population for Covid-19 and increasing testing capacity for the UK.
Are the labs within Covid Testing Network all accredited?
- Yes! All the laboratories that Covid Testing Network work with are UKAS accredited. UKAS, the United Kingdom Accreditation service, is the only service recognised by government, to assess against internationally agreed standards for organisations providing certification, testing, inspection and calibration services.
- Furthermore, all the labs that we work with have all gone through a rigorous approval process with the DHSC, who they provide testing for.
How many tests can you do per week?
- We are constantly working with our labs to increase capacity for the testing of Covid-19 in the UK.
- Currently, we are able to offer over 50,000 tests for the UK government for localised outbreaks, testing within the community in Care homes and for vulnerable communities as well as for Pillar 2. We also currently test over 5,000 individuals per week for the businesses who have testing plans with us.