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. 

Omicron variant

What do we know so far about the Omicron variant?

According to the UK government as of 19 December 2021, the Omicron variant was detected as the most dominant variant of concern in the UK. Leading to an increase in cases that saw more people choosing to cancel plans during a holiday period when they would otherwise have been more movement and socialising. 

What do we know about this new variant so far? 

SARS-CoV-2, B.1.1.529 also known as omicron was first reported to the W.HO. by South African Scientists on November 24, 2021. This new variant was first detected in specimens collected on November 11, 2021, in Botswana and on November 14, 2021, in South Africa.

Omicron was quickly identified as a variant of concern due to findings that showed that it contained several mutations that indicated that it might behave differently from the delta variant that was the dominant variant at the time. 

So far, Omicron appears to be showing higher transmissibility but studies in South Africa, the UK, Denmark and other parts of the world are ongoing. According to WHO, the current information indicates that initially, more people tested positive in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but scientists there indicate that since December, South Africa may have already reached the peak. 

When it comes to the severity of disease, it seems that even though it may not cause severe disease in most people as previous variants, Omicron the sheer volume of people testing positive is still forcing huge numbers to isolate. Even with less severity, there has been a worrying trend across the UK, EU, US and Australia that is seeing an increase in COVID-19 hospitalization rates.

What are the symptoms?

According to the CDC and W.H.O, like other dominant variants before, people have experienced and reported a wide range of symptoms from Omicron – ranging from asymptomatic cases to mild symptoms while others experience a severe illness that results in hospitalisation. According to the latest data, symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants. All variants of COVID-19, including the Delta variant that is dominant worldwide, can cause severe disease or death, in particular for the most vulnerable people, and thus prevention is always key. 

Here are the most common symptoms of COVID-19 to watch: 

  1. Fever or chills
  2. Cough
  3. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  4. Fatigue
  5. Muscle or body aches
  6. Headache
  7. New loss of taste or smell
  8. Sore throat
  9. Congestion or runny nose
  10. Nausea or vomiting
  11. Diarrhoea

This list is being updated regularly as the scientific community continues to learn more about COVID-19 and the impact of its mutations. 

Effectiveness of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection 

Preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron, thus those who were previously infected with other variants don’t have immunity from Omicron, as compared to other variants of concern, but the information is still limited.

Are vaccines effective against Omicron?

Economist Frederik Plesner Lyngse of the University of Copenhagen and the Danish Statens Serum Institute and his colleagues found that in households with a Delta outbreak, the unvaccinated were twice as likely to be infected by a household member as those who were fully vaccinated. In households struck by Omicron, unvaccinated and fully vaccinated people had roughly equal chances of catching the virus. This is why many countries like the UK are encouraging their citizens to get booster shots to increase their immunity against the new variant. Thus the Danish study showed that a booster shot cut the risk of infection by Omicron in half. Being vaccinated also reduces an infected person’s chance of infecting others. Noting that in both delta and omicron, an unvaccinated case was 41% more likely to infect another household member than a fully vaccinated one (1).

What about testing tools?

The widely used PCR test swabs continue to detect infection, including infection with Omicron, as we have seen with other variants as well. But confirming that a suspected case is Omicron requires a full genetic analysis, which takes between four and five days. By looking closely at the genetic material provided through testing, scientists can confirm whether someone is positive with Omicron or the already widely-circulating Delta.

Studies are ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on other types of tests, including rapid antigen detection tests (also referred to as a lateral flow test).  

How do you protect yourself?

Current safety measures like wearing a mask, washing your hands regularly, social distancing, vaccinating and knowing your covid status through testing still apply to the Omicron variant. So, with hospitals becoming more congested and pressure on NHS workers increasing, we all have a responsibility to play our part. 

how to take the lateral flow test by Project Screen

How to Take the Lateral Flow Antigen Test by Project Screen

If you have bought a Lateral Flow Antigen COVID-19 test from Project Screen by Prenetics, this video will help you take the test in the right way. Please ensure you have access to the internet when you take your test.

About the Project Screen Lateral Flow Antigen Test

Lateral Flow Antigen tests provide a fast and effective way for people to travel safely between countries and socialise with other people without spreading COVID. Not all countries accept a lateral flow test, so do check the government list for more information.

How to Take the Test

A Project Screen Lateral Flow test is a little different from an NHS test as you must upload a photo of the result to your account on the Project Screen website. We will then verify the result and update your profile so that you can travel safely.

To take the test, you’ll need the contents of your box, which include:

  • Lateral flow cassette
  • Swab
  • Re-agent tube

It’s also worth having a bin to the side for your used materials.

Before taking the test, you’ll need to update your profile.

  • Scan the QR code with your mobile phone. Start by completing your personal details, including your passport number, name and address
  • Click on ‘activate your kit’ and choose Lateral Flow Antigen
  • Enter the code from the inside of the box

Now get everything ready for the test:

  • Read the instructions
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds
  • Unbox the Lateral Flow cassette
  • Open the tube and place it in the card stand
  • Rotate the swab 5 times brushing against the inside of the nostril
  • Repeat on the other nostril
  • Put the swab in the tube to mix the reagent with your specimen and rotate for 30 seconds
  • Lightly squeeze the tube as you remove the swab extract as much specimen as possible
  • Add the dropper tip firmly onto the tube
  • Mix the solution thoroughly by swirling the bottom of the tube
  • Add 4 drops of the mixture to the specimen well on the test cassette.
  • Start the timer which is set for 15 minutes
  • After 15 minutes you can read the result
  • Do not interpret the result after 30 mins

Now you have to confirm the result. Choose one of the 4 options:

  1. Just C
  2. Both C and T (even if T is faint)
  3. Neither C nor T
  4. Just T

Then take a photo of the result and confirm the photo matches your submission. Place the rest of the test components in the waste bag and bin them.

Day 2 Lateral Flow Test

Getting Your COVID 19 Test Result

Your COVID-19 test result will be released within a few minutes in the web app. During exceptionally busy times, please allow up to two hours. We’d recommend taking your test during business hours in case you need to contact our customer support team for queries or additional guidance.

Once your result is ready, you’ll be able to see it in the web app. We’ll also email you a notification for your records.

If your result is negative, you can set about your plans as normal. If your result is positive, follow the Government’s guidelines.

Good luck and stay safe with Project Screen by Prenetics.

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?

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.

covid-19 swab test on driver

Buying a Covid 19 test? Read this first

“I’ve done pretty much every Covid test out there in Europe and North America. It has taken me hours of research to make sense of what’s out there. For me anyway, the best for travel was the LAMP test at Heathrow, because I could complete the test on the day of my flight. And the easiest test was in the US – there are pop-up booths that are quicker than clinics or a home kit.”

This is a quote from when I spoke to my friend, Jivan, before the latest national lockdown. I realised how many testing options were out there and how hard it would be to decide with confidence. That’s a problem, especially considering that the test results really matter. Another friend I spoke to needed a test result on time in order to complete her emigration to Australia which had been 3 years in the making. Not to mention other risks we’ve become familiar with.

Why is choosing and trusting a covid test so complicated?

Any product that involves scientific technology requires concentration to understand. It’s not as easy as buying a sandwich or a pair of shoes. A lot of the information is new and changing, meaning there’s a learning curve which can seem long, particularly if a new rule is announced by an organisation or government. Having said that, coronavirus testing technology is more established now than it was a year ago, which is hopefully a good sign if or when we need tests for work, leisure and travel.

Where to start?

Whilst it’s tempting to jump straight in by searching online for private test providers, we’d advise taking a step back by finding what’s required by relevant authorities. In the UK, this is found on the UK government’s website which explains testing rules for different situations. If there’s another authority involved, such as an airline for your flight ticket, a company contact for your return to a workplace, or an event owner for your sports match, be sure to read their website FAQs alongside government guidelines.

COVID 19 testing for traveling to and from the UK
Looking to travel to and from the UK? Explore your COVID 19 testing options first.

What am I looking for?

Remember you don’t need to choose a test provider until you know what you’re looking for. Comparing providers before you know what you need is a one way path to information overload. Instead, try to specify what you need using a form like this one:

Has the government specified what
type of test I need?
Yes / No PCR / LAMP /
Lateral Flow
Has another authority 
specified what type of test I need?
Yes / No PCR / LAMP /
Lateral Flow
Are free government tests available near
me for the type of test I need?
Yes
Besides the type of test, are there timing
requirements to my sample collection
and result?
Yes24 hours result
48-72 hours from
sample collection
Do I have personal preferences for how to
provide my sample?
YesI want to drive
I’d rather walk
I’d rather do it at home
I like the idea of a nurse

If there’s no information from the government or another authority on which type test you need, have a look at our explanation of covid test types for help. 

I know what I need. I want to compare Covid-19 test providers.

We’d suggest finding a shortlist of 2-3 providers so you have enough choice without needing to spend time on too many different brands. Whether you want a lateral flow test next to your office or a PCR test at home within 48 hours of travel, the basic ways to qualify your shortlist is

  1. Covid test type
  2. Timing of sample and results
  3. Preferred sample collection location and method

Once you’ve got a shortlist of providers that definitely offer the test you need, within the time you need it, at the place you want to do it, you can make a final decision based on the extra factors that may be important to you personally. To see these, read our in-depth comparison that we use internally to make sure our products are both clear and attractive to customers.