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Here’s How We’re Testing for Covid-19 at The Whitehall Clinic

Covid-19 Testing at The Whitehall Clinic

There’s no doubt that the recent media coverage on Covid-19 testing has been confusing, a huge number of conflicting stories, from medical professionals to “social media testing experts”. Very few people have had access to testing of any kind, even those with access have questioned the validity. We don’t do fake news, so we’ll simplify Covid-19 testing in general, the uses of the test, limitations and The Whitehall Clinic’s tests.

RT-PCR Test (Covid-19 PCR Antigen Swab Test)

The RT-PCR (PCR for short) Swab looks for the presence of viral RNA. A nasopharyngeal swab detects the virus at the back of your nose and mouth. Samples are taken at our Leeds City Centre Clinic and processed in our fully accredited Virology laboratory, the average turnaround time for this is 72 hours.

On receiving your results, you will get a detailed interpretation of the results, which includes some further information. We are also able to provide ‘fit to fly’ letters for those individuals needing to travel based on a negative test.

Serology Antibody Test

Serology tests detects two types of antibodies that are produced in the body as a response to SARS-CoV-2. At The Whitehall Clinic, based on the MHRA guidance, we carry out venous blood (blood from a vein) to detect antibodies. The blood samples are taken by a trained medical professional in the Clinic, no finger prick samples!

The Rapid In-Clinic Antibody test gives results in 10 minutes whilst you’re with us in the Clinic, indicating whether you have both IgG and IgM antibodies (previous and active infection)

Results from the Lab-Based Antibody test take on average 72 hours for the results. All samples are analysed by our fully accredited, Virology laboratory partner.

We also provide a fully detailed results interpretation, which has been developed by our Occupational Health team, including some advice based on the results of your antibody test. We’re also writing numerous blogs to support these findings.

Comparing our Covid-19 tests

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Symptomatic 

It’s been suggested that around 78% of people are asymptomatic from coronavirus (infectious, without showing any symptoms). Symptoms can develop anywhere between 2 – 14 days post exposure to the virus. It’s been found in 50% of cases, symptoms tend to develop within 5 days of exposure. 

As they begin to develop, viral RNA increases in the nasopharynx and is most detectable during the period of time where you’re experiencing symptoms. Using our “Symptom Tracker” App, you can track your symptoms daily for assessment.  Symptoms that indicate Covid-19 are cough, fatigue, fever, shortness of breath, muscle aches, loss of appetite, loss or sense of smell and taste and diarrhoea.

If you’ve have experienced flu-like symptoms for 7 days or less, we recommend having a PCR Antigen Swab Test since the viral RNA load is most detectable. 

From Day Eight to Symptom Conclusion

Whilst SARS-CoV-2 progresses, your body develops antibodies to fight the virus. Immunoglobin M (IgM) is generally detectable after 7 days. 

Symptom Resolution 

Since you have been symptomatic for fourteen days, viral RNA and IgM antibodies will generally be waning. However, the additional antibody, Immunoglobin G (IgM) increases and begins becoming detectable. IgM remains in the blood even after you have recovered from Covid-19. 

It’s still uncertain how long the antibodies remain in the system. Previous studies of SARS and MERS IgG antibodies remained elevated for a period of two to three years. It’s not yet been confirmed whether antibodies of Covid-19 mean that someone is immune from catching SARS-CoV-2 again. However, positively, to date there has not been one case of re-infection.

We recommend antibody tests for individuals who have had symptom onset more than fourteen days previously and have now concluded, since IgG is likely to be detected.

In the meantime, we recommend that each person, regardless of results should continue to follow guidelines on social distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing masks in crowded places. 

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