Lady taking a lateral flow test

Lateral Flow Testing

You may have heard the Government talking about Lateral Flow or Lateral Flow Antigen testing, which is a fast and affordable method of testing for COVID-19.

These tests are useful, as you can do them yourself at home, overseas, or under the supervision of a trained professional. The key difference between RT-PCR testing and lateral flow is that the test result is shown on a small handheld device.

How the Lateral Flow Antigen Test Works

The lateral flow antigen devices used by Project Screen collect cells from the nose which are then mixed with a reagent and placed into the lateral flow cassette. In about 10 minutes your result is indicated in the lateral flow device in the form of coloured bars.

timing a lateral flow test using an iphone

You can do the lateral flow test in a personal or professional setting and get the results right then and there—this is slightly different from other types of COVID-19 testing:

  • RT-PCR tests send samples to a lab or for processing and typically take 24 hrs to turn around
  • OxLAMP technology can be used in settings like Airports where a mobile lab can provide results in less than two hours

Is the Lateral Flow Test for COVID-19 Accurate?

In a word: Yes.

While RT-PCR and OxLAMP tests are the most accurate, a press release published by the UK Department of Health and Social Care (March 2021) stated that: Lateral flow tests can show a specificity of 99.9%. This means, fewer than one false positive in every 1,000 tests carried out.

Further good news is that this research was carried out using millions of people which is important for scientific rigour. In the same article, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

“This new data further confirms what we know – these rapid tests are extremely accurate and are helping dramatically curb COVID cases. On Monday alone, we conducted over 1.5 million tests.”

It’s worth mentioning that these lateral flow tests were carried out in a supervised setting, which means that expert instruction was given to the participants and the test was processed by qualified individuals.

Lateral Flow Testing at Home

A huge advantage of lateral flow testing is that an individual can take the test at home and process their own test result.

using swab for COVID-19 lateral flow test

To keep standards high, some precautions can be taken to maximise the accuracy of the lateral flow test. These include:

  • Having clean and sanitized hands
  • Working in a clean environment
  • Making sure that a good connection is made between the swab and nose
  • Ensuring enough sample is collected from the nose
  • Mixing the sample with the regent effectively
  • Reading the result after 10 mins, but before 20 mins

Lateral Flow Testing and Travel

Privately bought lateral flow tests can be used for travel in two main ways.

Travelling out of England 

For some countries lateral flow tests are applicable as a Fit to Fly test, whereas for other countries you will need a PCR test. Note, you can’t use an NHS test for travel purposes. You can read more about travelling to other countries in this blog post and in this government article.

Travelling into England

Before travelling into England, you’ll need to do a COVID-19 test three days before departure. As part of a round trip, starting in the UK, this is usually a lateral flow antigen test. Also note, you can’t use an NHS test for travel purposes. You can read more about travelling into the UK in this blog post.

Project Screen and Lateral Flow Testing

Lateral flow testing is both fast and economical, which means it’s great for testing people several times a week, for travel, or for events, professional and personal reasons.

Lateral Flow Antigen tests are part of our offer with Virgin Atlantic, where you can buy a bundle containing a lateral flow test, to suit your travel plans. For the destinations that Virgin flies to, we have a calculator to help you understand what kind of test you need.

Virgin Atlantic Flies to Several Amber Countries

We have recently used lateral flow testing with Mustard Foods, where we trained their staff on how to take a sample and run the test themselves.

Are you going on holiday?

Read our travel blog posts:

The Holiday Maker’s Guide to COVID Testing

What is Fit to Fly in 1 minute?

Lateral Flow Test for COVID-19

Lateral Flow Antigen Testing for International Travel

If you’re like me, you have a lovely pack of NHS lateral flow antigen tests sitting beside your work-from-home desk, waiting to be used for pertinent social or professional occasions.

You might also be thinking, “Can I use these for international travel?”

I’m afraid the answer is, “No.”

The good news is that you can use a lateral flow test before returning to the UK as part of your international travels. The even better news is that you can get one through Project Screen by Prenetics. You’ll need to take this test three days before you fly back to the UK. The government has handy guidelines on how and when to do this, especially if you’re travelling through multiple countries.

The Difference Between Home Lateral Flow Testing and International Lateral Flow Testing

Lateral flow or lateral flow antigen testing is great because you can self-test and get a result in about 10 mins. The result will be visible on a small plastic device known as the lateral flow cassette.

Where things get trickier is validating a lateral flow result before a plane ride. Airports don’t want you walking about with your test cassette and showing it to border control officers! And what’s to say that it’s not one that you did ages ago!? Unlikely, we know, but nevertheless, a better system had to be created for international travel.

Prenetics Lateral Flow Antigen Testing

Before you travel, you’ll need to have purchased a lateral flow test from us. If you’re flying long haul, you could buy one of our Virgin Atlantic tests here.

Virgin Atlantic Flies to Several Amber Countries

Our lateral flow tests are linked to the Project Screen app. Once you’ve taken your test, you’ll be asked to take a photo of it and supply the unique number that identifies the test as yours. The app will verify the test and supply the digital documentation that you need to board your flight.

COVID-19 Lateral Flow Test

How to buy lateral flow tests for travel

Right now you can buy lateral flow tests through our partnership with Virgin Atlantic. You can buy a complete bundle that will cover your trip from door to door, including Fit to Fly and Test to Release!

Happy travelling!

Royal Mail Logo

Home Test Kits & the May 3rd Public Holiday

Home test kit delivery and sample returns by post are subject to Royal Mail operating days and times. It’s completely understandable to want test results as quickly as possible. And we are often reminded to keep in mind typical timelines for postal deliveries and returns, especially during weekends and public holidays.

The best way to get fast deliveries and returns is to:

  1. Order early – purchase your home test kit 3 business days before you intend to take your sample.
  2. Avoid Sundays and public holidays if possible – for kit deliveries, place your order early. For sample returns, note the collection times at your priority postbox and then count the business days to your expected sample return date. Alternatively, you can check our Pod locations to drop off samples, which are couriered to our lab at the end of each day (currently operating Mon-Fri).

What if I order a home test kit between Thursday 29th April and Saturday 1st May, but my day 2 is Sunday 2nd May or Monday 3rd May?

All home test kits must be ordered 3 working days before you intend to take your sample. To receive your home test kit before the public holiday on Monday 3rd May, you must have ordered your home test kit by Tuesday 27th April. 

Royal Mail is delivering on Friday 30th, so your test kit may get to you in time. Please refer to Royal Mail’s website for their latest updates regarding delivery delays. We do not accept any liability for delayed results due to late samples.

What if my day 2, day 5 or day 8 sample return is delayed due to Royal Mail not collecting from priority post boxes on Sunday 2nd May and Monday 3rd May?

When it comes to adhering to government travel policy, an important rule is to carry out your sample on the correct day of your quarantine. So, whilst it may be frustrating that a day 2 sample stays in the post until over the public holiday period, you have still followed the rule by taking your sample on day 2. 

If you are returning a day 5 (test to release) sample just before the public holiday weekend in hope that your sample will reach the lab before Monday, you might want to reconsider using Royal Mail. 

Alternatively, you can drop off your sample at our pod locations in Reading and Dartford before 4pm to benefit from the daily private courier. Or, private couriers are available at your own cost here.

walk up covid testing at a pod

About the Guided Self Swab method at Testing Pods

A new testing model; towards simplicity in 2021 for travel, work and events

“It would be an understatement to say my team was busy in 2020” said my new colleague, Hilly, as we introduced ourselves. It was my first day at Prenetics. I joined a session to plan for 2021, in what seemed to be a rare opportunity to look up and ahead for this team.

What I heard on in that session was:

  1. Our elite sport and film production clients are happy with the Covid-19 testing provided on their sites, but staff have asked for access to widespread locations.
  2. When travel, leisure and workplace activity increases, many more people will need safe and convenient covid tests, but a return of crowding and queues might actually make safety even more of a concern.
  3. Some customers feel information overload just trying to find a private coronavirus test, let alone watching a sample collection video and trying to organise a courier during a busy postal period. It’s not easy – certainly not the ideal start to a holiday or workday.

Local green testing pods

What if I could carry out a test near me, rather than queuing at the airport or in a crowded travel clinic? How can I avoid the effort of reading a hastily-made website, losing my confirmation email and forgetting how to provide my sample correctly. We set out to make testing easy by building a dream digital journey and taking the thinking out of providing a sample.

Key differences testing at a pod

Open-air

Drive up or walk up to the outdoor space. We know fresh air reduces transmission. For some of us on the team, it just feels better to not be indoors with other people who are getting tested.

Low-contact, digital journey

Book a test online from up to 190 time slots per day, create an account with your details only once, then forget about everything other than a QR code. The pod managers are behind glass and don’t touch your phone, so there couldn’t be less human contact.

Easy self-swab-and-drop

If I’m going to cough from the swab, I would prefer to be doing it myself. The magic is, the pod manager is guiding me step by step to make sure it’s done properly. It’s really worth trying the combination of controlling your own swab with someone else doing the thinking for you.

Our courier, Our lab

Again, do you want to read from 10 different sample return options or just leave the pod knowing that we’ve already organised for our courier to go directly to the lab at the end of each day.

covid 19 testing pod by project screen
The Guided Self Swab method, available at Project Screen’s Covid 19 Testing Pods

National testing network

There were six weeks from the idea session to launching the first pods at Reading and Dartford, in England. Ten pods are ready to open at our next sites, then up to 30 and all the way to 300 covid testing pods throughout the UK. This is the contribution for summer holidays, getting back to work and attending events. Keep an eye out for more test pod locations popping up in the coming weeks.