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.