COVID-19 rapid self-test

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The virus enters the body, which generates antibodies in response to the infection. These antibodies can be detected in your blood. More information

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The COVID-19 rapid self-test is a non-specific test for home use, which detects the presence of antibodies against the coronavirus. The test gives a ‘positive’ or a ‘negative’ result. If you have a positive test result, it is possible that you have been infected with coronavirus
Please take into account that the test may give a misleading result: a false reactive (positive) or false non-reactive (negative) test result. Unlike a laboratory test, the COVID-19 rapid self-test cannot be used to test for an active infection. Therefore, this test should not be used to diagnose COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Whether people who recover from COVID-19 will be immune to reinfection from the coronavirus has not yet been scientifically proven. There is also no scientific evidence that you cannot infect others anymore after you’ve been infected with the novel coronavirus. If you suspect you may be infected with coronavirus, we advise you to contact your doctor and follow the advice of the NHS and the national authorities.

What is a COVID-19 rapid self-test?

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The virus enters the body, which generates antibodies in response to the infection. These antibodies can be detected in your blood. The COVID-19 rapid self-test allows you to detect the presence of antibodies against novel coronavirus in your body. The self-test can be performed at home and gives results in just 10 minutes.

What is COVID-19?

The virus that causes COVID-19 belongs to a family of coronaviruses. When seen under a microscope, the outer edge of the coronavirus particles has a crown or ‘corona’ of spikes. Hence the name ‘coronavirus’. The novel coronavirus belongs to the same family of viruses as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Because the coronavirus is a new virus, our immune system does not have the antibodies to fight off the virus. As a result, the virus has claimed many victims. Most people who are infected have only mild symptoms that pass after several days without treatment. Predominant symptoms of coronavirus infection include:

  • Headache.
  • Sore throat.
  • Nose cold.
  • Coughing.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Fever.

Some people suffer more severe health risks from COVID-19. COVID-19 can cause severe respiratory problems, such as pneumonia or severe difficulty in breathing, and high fever. Not all patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms survive the illness. Older people or people who suffer from diabetes, lung disease, heart or vascular disease or other conditions have a greater risk of developing serious complications.

Preventing coronavirus infection

The novel coronavirus is very contagious. Therefore, people with coronavirus symptoms, even if they are very mild, should stay at home (self-isolate) until they are well. However, it is important to seek medical attention if the symptoms are severe (high fever in combination with difficulty breathing).

People who are asymptomatic can still carry and spread the virus, so it's important to practise social distancing. Keeping a distance of 1.5 to 2 metres from other people will help reduce the spread of the virus and prevent people from becoming infected. In addition, you should wash your hands regularly and sneeze or cough into your elbow. To view all measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, view the NHS website.

How does the COVID-19 rapid self-test work?

If someone, despite having taken all the necessary precautions, is infected with the coronavirus, this generates a response in their body's immune system. Antibodies, or immunoglobulines, are released that fight infection and defend the body against the antigen — in this case, the coronavirus. These antibodies can be detected in your blood. The COVID-19 rapid self-test detects antibodies in the user’s blood, serum or plasma that indicate they have been exposed to the coronavirus. It works with both Immunoglobulin G and Immunoglobulin M (IgG and IgM) type antibodies.

The test consists of a test cassette in which a small amount of blood, plasma or serum and a few drops of buffer solution are brought into contact with a COVID-19 antigen. If a coloured line appears in the test window, then the novel coronavirus IgG antibody and/or IgM antibody has been detected and the result is positive.

The COVID-19 self-test is very reliable: it has a test sensitivity of 100% for IgG and 85% for IgM, and a specificity of 98% for IgG and 96% for IgM.

How does the COVID-19 rapid self-test kit work?

The COVID-19 rapid self-test comes with a test cassette, disinfecting alcohol swab, lancet to prick your fingertip, capillary transfer tube or pipette, and buffer solution to dilute the blood sample.

Before carrying out the COVID-19 rapid self-test, consult the package leaflet for instructions and adhere to these carefully to avoid invalid test results. The guidelines for performing this finger-prick blood test are as follows.

  • Remove the test cassette from the packaging.
  • Wash your hands with warm water and cleanse the tip of your middle finger or ring finger with the alcohol swab provided.
  • Prick the tip of your middle finger or ring finger with the lancet. Use the alcohol swab to wipe away the first drop of blood.
  • Allow a second drop of blood to form, position the capillary transfer tube or pipette horizontally, and lightly touch the drop of blood to allow the blood drop to be drawn into the collection device. If necessary, repeat until the collection device is filled to the level required for testing (see instructions on the package leaflet).
  • Transfer the blood to the sample well (S) on the test cassette and add two drops of buffer solution.
  • Set a timer. The result in the test window should appear in 10 minutes. Attention: do not interpret the result after 20 minutes.

The rapid self-test test comes with these additional warnings:

  • If you are testing someone else's blood, be sure to wear protective clothing and gloves to avoid risk of infection.
  • If you are testing serum or plasma other guidelines apply (see the package leaflet).
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke while the test is performed.
  • Perform the test immediately after collecting the blood sample.
  • Unused test kits should be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator (between 2 and 30 degrees Celsius).
  • Before testing you should always consult the package leaflet for a complete list of instructions and warnings.

How do I interpret the test results?

The test window is divided into three sections: IgG, IgM and a control section (C). A coloured line in the C section always appears to indicate that the test is performed properly. If in addition to the presence of the control line, a coloured line appears in the IgM and/or IgM section, the test has detected the presence of antibodies for COVID-19.

Invalid test result

Absence of a coloured line in the control section (C) indicates a non-reactive test result or an invalid test result, even if a coloured line appears in the IgG and/or IgM section. Insufficient blood volume or incorrect procedural techniques are the most likely reasons for control line failure. In this case, you should review the procedure and repeat the test with a new test cassette.

What to do if you've tested positive

Does the COVID-19 rapid self-test indicate the presence of antibodies against the coronavirus? And do you have symptoms of COVID-19? If you only have mild symptoms, then the advice according to the guidelines is to stay at home and self-isolate until your symptoms have subsided. If your symptoms are getting worse or persist and you develop a fever (38 degrees Celsius or higher), cough and are having shortness of breath, seek medical attention immediately. It is also important that you follow the NHS guidelines to limit the spread of coronavirus and keep others from getting sick.