Everything You Need To Know About Lateral Flow Tests

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This time last year, it wasn’t easy to be tested for Covid-19. However, 12 months later and we’re seeing an influx of new test options through both private and public means.

Regular coronavirus testing has now become a way of life for many. Lateral flow tests have been taken on a mass scale by a huge percentage of the population, at least twice weekly. But what are these tests, when are they needed, and how do they work? Let us explain…

Lateral Flow Test Requirements For Travel

From 24th October 2021, all fully vaccinated UK citizens are able to take a lateral flow test on their second day, post-arrival back in the country. This is in place of a full PCR test.

Providing the test gives a negative result, there is no requirement for the individual to quarantine, and they may go about their daily life as normal. Lateral flow tests to be taken for travel purposes, must be privately purchased and not obtained on the NHS. At present, is the leading provider of such tests and these can be ordered for less than £30 including delivery.

How Do Lateral Flow Tests Work?

A lateral flow test is also known as a lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) or lateral flow device (LFD). The most common form of lateral flow test is the common home pregnancy test.

Lateral flow tests work by detecting the presence of a target pathogen when a specimen is entered into it. It provides both a ‘control’ line to demonstrate that the test has worked, followed by a second marker to show the pathogen’s presence (or, if not marked, absence). If the pathogen the test is looking to detect is present, it will bind to the second line to give a positive result.

Lateral flow tests come in many different shapes, sizes and types, but for the most part can deliver a result within 10 minutes of a specimen being entered. In the case of lateral flow tests taken for Covid-19, the sample is gained from the inside of a nostril and/or throat, and mixed with a control substance.

When Are Lateral Flow Tests Free To Take?

Lateral flow tests are free to order and use for all of those eligible for NHS treatment. In the case of NHS tests, they should only be ordered and taken by those who are entirely asymptomatic and should be taken no less than twice a week, with the results logged on to the user’s medical record online.

Even those fully vaccinated are able to take lateral flow tests. Many workplaces require the regular logging of such tests to ensure the safety of their staff.

Free tests are not suitable for travel purposes and will not be accepted by insurers or foreign travel offices.

How Accurate Are Lateral Flow Tests?

Lateral flow tests rely on the user to complete the testing process themselves accurately enough to provide a relevant result. They are considered around 80% effective when completed correctly by users testing negative. They are also over 90% effective for those with the coronavirus pathogen in their system.

Where an individual presents with Covid-19 symptoms, they should take a PCR test for better accuracy. The results of these tests are analyzed in a full laboratory environment. The difference in accuracy between lateral flow and PCR tests is why only those fully vaccinated, and/or without symptoms, are allowed to rely on lateral flor tests.

Lateral flow tests being considered the minimum requirement for UK entry makes traveling much easier and cheaper. Explore your options now and get globetrotting to your favorite destinations.

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