COVID test results in the UK are believed to be inconsistent. There are two main types of diagnostic tests, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and the antibody tests. These tests detect whether a person has the virus now or had it previously.
According to the NHS: the PCR detects the presence of the Ribonucleic acid (RNA) in a swab sample from your nose or throat. Whilst the antibody test searches for the virus in a blood sample. PCR tests are the most used in the UK.
Though the NHS data suggests that the PCR test has a high reliability rate, the COVID results are thought to unreliable, as results sometimes indicate that people do not have the virus when they do. This is identified as a ‘false negative’.
Research shows that it is definitely true that some tests which show as positive may be false positives. It’s equally true that some of the negative results will be false negatives.
Jenelle Mantey, Nurse, Kings College Hospital said: ‘’Being tested for COVID isn’t a pleasant experience. If you don’t end up crying whiles doing the test, you probably haven’t done it properly.’’
She also stated that the only downside to the PCR test is finding out the result for that specific day only. This means you may be tested as negative on Monday, but then could have caught the virus on Tuesday and not even know.
As a nurse, Jenelle Mantey stated: ‘’I feel people think the test is inconsistent because it just shows you whether or not you’ve had COVID on the day of your test, it won’t show you if you’ve had it on other days before.’’
Jenelle shared that she had taken the antibody test in May which meant that she built some antibody or antigen from COVID. However, the Medical Xpress highlights that: ‘’the antibodies only provide partial protection: they slow the virus down, but the virus can still cause some degree of infection.’’
Mantey adds that: ‘’antibody only lasts for a few months; I could possibly get COVID again.’’
Though it is evident that both PCR and antibody tests identify the virus, there is also the issue of people testing themselves incorrectly. This results to inconsistency in tests.
‘’I honestly don’t think I took this test right, so this is why when I got my results, I was a bit like I don’t even know if this is right.’’ Molly Jones, 23 stated.
Jones said: ‘’I didn’t even do the test correctly, as the man at the centre said, but I received my test results within less than 24 hours, with my results being negative. I think the COVID test is not reliable as I am sure I did not do it right.’’
It is evident that COVID tests prove whether you’ve had the virus or not. Nonetheless, the issue of inconsistency stems from not knowing if you will have the virus the next day or not.