Simply as we thought we understood COVID testing, alongside got here omicron and raised an entire new bunch of questions. We requested Dr Andrew Lee, a reader in world public well being, to reply them.
The UK authorities web site ran out of lateral move checks. Does that imply I can’t get one wherever?
Lateral move checks for residence supply in England have been briefly unavailable in latest days. Authorities ministers have burdened that this isn’t due to a scarcity of the checks however due to an distinctive enhance in demand for them that has outstripped the flexibility to ship the checks.
That is paying homage to the toilet-paper shopping for frenzy final 12 months when individuals feared a scarcity. It’s probably that as the push for checks settles, on-line entry to the checks ought to rapidly return to regular.
It’s necessary to notice you can nonetheless get a lateral move take a look at out of your native pharmacy, so long as you’ve got a accumulate code. College students and training employees might also have the ability to get checks from their faculties and faculties and there are area people assortment websites, equivalent to libraries and mosques. Examine together with your native council for the newest data.
Do lateral move checks work as effectively with omicron as they did with earlier variants?
The UK Well being Safety Company has examined the lateral move units presently in use and has reported that they do detect omicron and work in addition to they did in opposition to different variants equivalent to delta.
If I’ve signs and a unfavorable lateral move take a look at, ought to I nonetheless get a PCR?
Sure. Anybody with COVID signs ought to get a PCR take a look at, even when they’ve had a unfavorable consequence on a lateral move take a look at. In contrast with the lateral move take a look at, the PCR take a look at is way extra delicate. This doesn’t imply the lateral move take a look at is just not good – they provide a fast consequence and may detect infections when an individual is perhaps most infectious and more likely to unfold an infection.
If each the lateral move and PCR checks are unfavorable, then you’re unlikely to have COVID and the signs could also be because of another illness, equivalent to an infection attributable to one other winter virus.
Can PCR checks additionally detect the so-called stealth model of omicron?
Sure. It is very important stress that PCR checks for COVID will detect infections attributable to all variants of COVID, together with omicron and the so-called stealth model. Some PCR checks, equivalent to reflex assay checks that are used for fast screening of identified mutations, use a set of “gene targets” to assist establish which variant of the virus is current. The so-called stealth model of omicron doesn’t have one of many mutations that enables it to be recognized by one of many gene targets, however the an infection will nonetheless be detected by the opposite gene targets. It’s due to this fact incorrectly labelled as a stealth model, as it’s nonetheless detectable by the PCR take a look at.
Can I do a PCR take a look at at residence? In that case, how?
Sure. It’s doable to order a PCR take a look at package to do at residence. Anybody with COVID signs can order a house take a look at package via the federal government web site. Should you should not have COVID signs, you should still have the ability to get a PCR take a look at package if:
you’re a contact of somebody who has examined optimistic
you’ve been requested to get a take a look at by an area council or somebody from NHS Check and Hint
a GP or different well being skilled has requested you to get a take a look at
you’re participating in a authorities pilot undertaking
you’ve been requested to get a take a look at to verify a optimistic consequence
you’ve acquired an unclear consequence and have been advised to get a second take a look at
you must get a take a look at for somebody you reside with who has signs.
If I do a PCR, will I be advised if I’ve omicron?
Not essentially. Not all PCR COVID checks endure an extra set of checks to work out which variant has induced that an infection. However neither is that this data essential. For the person, it is not going to matter a lot which variant one has as the general public well being measures would be the similar; that’s, the necessity to self-isolate and to take precautions to restrict the unfold of an infection. Additionally, within the coming weeks, it’s probably that the majority infections then will probably be attributable to omicron and never different variants.
How good are PCR checks at precisely figuring out omicron?
As talked about above, the PCR checks for COVID are fairly good at detecting COVID infections together with omicron. However not all optimistic PCR checks go on to have further checks to work out which variant is inflicting the an infection. A proportion will probably be examined for a set of gene targets (genotyping), and a few will go on to have a way more intensive evaluation of the entire genes of the virus (sequencing). Sequencing will give essentially the most correct identification of omicron. Genotyping can be very correct when a gene goal particular to this variant is used.
If I’ve a optimistic lateral move or PCR take a look at, what do I must do?
In each instances, if in case you have a optimistic lateral move or PCR take a look at, it is best to isolate instantly. That is an important step you may take that can assist stop the unfold of an infection to others. Self-isolation means you shouldn’t go to work, college or public locations, it is best to work at home if you happen to can, you shouldn’t go on public transport or use taxis, or exit to get meals and medication. You shouldn’t have guests in your house, together with family and friends – aside from individuals who give important care.
Extra recommendation is obtainable on the NHS web site.
Andrew Lee has beforehand acquired analysis funding from the Nationwide Institute for Well being Analysis. He’s a member of the UK School of Public Well being and the Royal Society for Public Well being.