Can I get a private coronavirus test in the UK, and how much would it cost?


How can I get a private coronavirus test and what is the cost?

There are a number of clinics and private laboratories offering home test kits for people who want to know if they have a coronavirus.

Summerfield Healthcare offers one of the cheapest tests, with prices ranging from £ 199 to £ 299. The private Harley Street clinic sells a home test kit for £ 395 which also covers nine other respiratory viruses, including the flu.

Are companies profiting from a crisis?

Some companies have been accused of making extra profits from the high demand caused by the pandemic, but say the cost of testing has been increased by rising prices for components, delivery, packaging and the distribution.

Dr Mark Ali, who runs the private Harley Street clinic in London, has ordered more than 7,000 tests at £ 375 each. He said he donated 100 tests to the NHS and dismissed the profit claims, saying he was providing a much needed service.

Summerfield Healthcare increased the cost of one of its Covid-19 home test kits from £ 149 to £ 249, citing increased demand and increased costs from suppliers.

How do they work?

Mail order services provide a throat and nose swab that customers can use before sending it to a laboratory for analysis.

Most tests are based on the detection of small amounts of virus-specific genetic material, using a method called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). These can take several days to deliver a result, although it is hoped that new technologies will be incorporated to speed up this process.

Alternatively, small virus proteins (antigens) can be detected, which provides a faster but less precise response.

Are there enough test kits currently available?

Several laboratories that offered private testing in the early days of the epidemic are now starting to supply the NHS for their own testing needs, creating a backlog for private users.

AlphaBiolabs, based in Cheshire, said that although it had received hundreds of orders from employers to test their workforce, in order to “keep supply chain activities operational”, it had decided to supply all of its stock initial to the NHS at cost price.

How long before I get a result?

Results are promised within days of receiving samples from an individual, although in some cases customers are advised that due to a “high volume of requests” delays may be longer. County Antrim Randox Laboratories, which also perform tests for a number of other private clinics, are expected to expand their capacity so that they can start processing 5,000 tests per week.

Do private tests work?

Public Health England (PHE) advises the public to avoid “rapid home coronavirus tests” because there is “little information” on their accuracy or “ability to diagnose Covid-19 infection in the community “

PHE warns that it is unknown whether a positive or negative result from these tests is reliable.

It says it has started evaluating a number of commercial tests, but has yet to approve.

The Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) also warned that unauthorized and dangerous coronavirus testing could flood the market as fraudsters seek to take advantage of the pandemic.

Will my employer accept the results of a private test?

Many employers are expected to be cautious about accepting private test results, given questions about their reliability and the risk of a staff member being “wiped out” because the virus still does not pass it on to others At work.

Edwin Morgan, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, told the Telegraph: “Public Health England has not advocated the use of home test kits, and business leaders will follow official guidelines.

“Employers have a duty to take care of their staff and they will also try to be as responsible as possible to help prevent the spread of the virus. There will inevitably be gray areas and companies will have to take what they consider to be the best decision in these very difficult circumstances. “


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