Introducing the CircleHeatlhPod

The Evolution of Health and Wellbeing Testing at Home

How Lateral Flow Devices have played a pivotal role during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Over the last couple of years, we have come to appreciate the importance of home-testing in the protection of ourselves and other individuals in our communities. Lateral Flow Tests (LFD) have provided us with a simple, yet highly effective method of rapid testing from the safety and privacy of our own homes. In addition, Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs) also greatly reduce the risk of having to travel to get tested which has helped greatly reduce the spread of Covid-19 throughout the world. Covid testing at home with LFDs or PCR tests have played a pivotal role in reducing the number of cases and providing valuable data to governments across the world. Since March 2020, LFDs and PCR tests have gradually become a part of our everyday lives, becoming available and used by millions around the world.

Health testing at home, where and when did it start…

At-home testing has been around for decades with the most commonly known tests being the pregnancy test, glucose testing, blood testing for colon cancer and Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) testing. These tests have enabled the general public to conveniently and discreetly get tested and receive the results that they need faster. This testing has allowed individuals to gain valuable insights into their health and wellbeing. But did you know that there are many other biomarkers that can be tested from samples taken in the comfort of your own home, which can tell you all about your DNA, overall health, fitness and ancestry?

The different types of home testing

Prenetics and DNAfit have provided at-home DNA and genetic testing for years, providing individuals with more insight surrounding their health and general wellbeing. Our mission throughout has been to utilise genetics and technology to help you live longer, healthier and happier lives. There are many different kinds of home-testing available that can provide you with the best guidance on your diet and lifestyle, to promote your overall health and wellbeing.

DNAFit Test Kit
DNAFit Test Kit

DNA testing has been at the core of DNAfit from the start. Our earliest venture into DNA testing was in supporting elite athletes achieve their fitness goals and reach their full potential. Over time, the promising outcomes achieved for athletes sparked an interest and a strong appetite among the general population. Our HomeFit DNA tests provide you with the information you need to allow you to optimise your workouts, diet and lifestyle accordingly to benefit you. DNAfit home-testing will provide you with valuable insights into what types of exercise you do and don’t respond best to, how to prevent injuries that could set you back, and guidance on how to personalise your nutritional intake to meet your individual genetic needs. This has provided individuals all over the world with the ability to know and understand exactly what their body requires to be healthier and to increase their day-to-day performance.

Unlocking your DNA doesn’t just benefit your performance… It can also be a crucial tool which enables you to effectively learn about your overall health. These tests have the potential to further provide you with insights into varying health conditions you may be predisposed to according to your genetic make-up – allowing you to tailor your fitness, lifestyle and dietary requirements accordingly. Using samples processed in our own internationally accredited laboratory, Circle DNA uses advanced technology to give you a comprehensive look into your genome by providing you with results concerning your disease risk, cancer risk, physical traits, general wellbeing, diet, nutrition, ancestry and more. These easy-to-do home tests help you improve your understanding of your DNA, enabling you to start taking more control of your health and wellbeing.

It’s not just DNA that has helped people gain insights into their health and wellbeing. At-home blood testing has been a growing industry in assisting to monitor how their body is performing via vitamin levels, heart health, diabetes risk, liver function, STI testing and more. Blood testing gives you the ability to better understand your current health and what steps you could then take to improve this. Products like SnapShot allow for the easy taking of blood samples at home which is then reviewed by a doctor, providing you with data on how your body is currently performing and what lifestyle and nutritional changes you can make to improve your overall health and wellbeing.

What does the future hold for this ever-evolving industry?

Introducing the CircleHeatlhPod
Introducing the CircleHeatlhPod

The future of at-home health testing looks bright… The introduction of products like CircleHealthPod provide individuals with accurate PCR-quality lab results in about 20 minutes, all from the comfort of their own home. This highly accurate and rapid test provides its users with greater control over their health, offering peace of mind to them and their loved ones. Other innovations include at-home testing for fertility, diabetes, STDs, iron levels, different types of cancer, inflammatory bowel diseases, infectious diseases such as HIV and much more. These innovations will help millions around the world in the prevention and treatment of many diseases and conditions. The industry is continually growing and evolving which is giving everyone the opportunity to keep on top of their health, wellbeing and future from the comfort and privacy of their own home.

Prenetics launches a laboratory in London

Last year, Prenetics Ltd officially launched a state-of-the-art testing laboratory in Greenwich, London. The laboratory has the capacity to analyse thousands of results in an average turnaround of approximately 12 hours daily. This means, within 24 hours of receiving swabs at our laboratory, samples are analysed, and results are delivered securely online. The lab analyses both direct rapid PCR and RNA extracted PCR tests as well, making for an incredible additional capacity to meet the demands for the UK’s PCR testing requirements. 

From a quality perspective, the Greenwich facility is also GDPR compliant and adheres to the leading international security standard, ISO 27001, with connections encrypted using SSL. Our labs adhere to the highest standards of information security to ensure that customers’ data is protected when they test with us. 

This Greenwich lab serves as a part of Prenetics’ contribution to the fight against COVID-19 in the UK – by increasing testing capacity in London, we can ensure that we can provide a trusted testing service for Brits and international travellers. Investing in our own laboratory was also a crucial part of our mission as a business, which is to safely get Britain back to Work, Play and Travel. We have now not only expanded our capacity but can ensure that our clients continue to receive reliable and quality testing at their convenience. Our lab uses the latest technology to not only process the results, but to ascertain that those who test with Project Screen by Prenetics get their results in the time they need them. We utilise well-established and effective collection methods that are simple to conduct at mobile testing locations across the country before they are sent to the Greenwich lab or any of our other testing locations with our partner laboratories across the UK. 

We are continuously working hard as an organisation to ensure that we put in the work to upgrade our compliance and advance our technology so we can continue to be a trusted testing provider. Hence, Prenetics EMEA Ltd is now officially UKAS accredited to ISO 15189 (Medical Laboratories) and ISO 22870 (Point of Care Testing) under the unique reference number 22222. This means that the Prenetics laboratory and our laboratory partners are UKAS accredited or UKAS applicants, and use DHSC validated RT-PCR assays with the required accuracy that are quality assured internally and externally by independent assessment.

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the national accreditation body recognised by the UK Government to assess the competence of organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services. 

As a company that also specialises in personalised preventative health solutions via DNA and blood tests, the lab will generally be expanded and used to develop and innovate in that space going into the future. 

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.

Day Lateral Flow Test

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.