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During an appearance at the House of Commons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people planning to celebrate Christmas with elderly friends and family to get tested before the holiday. Mr Johnson said: “In general, the testing system is available at the moment for people who have symptoms. But I would urge people who are worried that they may need to be in the company of those who are elderly or vulnerable to seek to get a rapid turnaround test.”
What is an antigen test?
An antigen test is very similar to a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, which uses saliva to determine if a person has had antigens and therefore been carrying the virus.
A swab is taken from the inside of the nose and back of the throat using a long cotton bud, while in some cases, a saliva sample is requested instead.
An antigen test looks for the virus’s proteins in the body to see if the person has an active infection, even in cases where they are asymptomatic.
Any test provided by a private company must have a ‘CE mark’ on it, to show they meet all legal requirements.
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Where can I get an antigen test?
As it stands, there are not many places aside from the NHS which provide antigen tests to customers.
PCR tests, however, are widely available throughout the country.
Boots offers a PCR swab test carried out in-store which returns results within 48 hours of testing.
To access the test, customers need to fill in a registration form and book an appointment online at Boots store.
The Boots PCR test is suitable for adults and children aged five and over but is not suitable for anyone with Covid symptoms or anyone who thinks they may have the virus.
If this applies to you, you should look to get a free Covid-19 test from the NHS.
Lloyds Pharmacy offers customers two types of coronavirus test.
Customers can opt for a PCR swab test and an antibody test, which will let you know if you’ve had the virus before.
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Costing £119, the Lloyds test is CE marked and designed to be used at home, meaning your kit will be delivered via post.
Alternatively, the antibody test costs £69 and involves collecting a blood sample, also carried out by customers at home before being sent to a lab to be tested.
The Harley Street Health Clinic in London can provide customers with a PCR test for £175, taken on site.
The test was designed for people about to travel or who are asymptomatic, with results coming in the next day before 8pm.
A certificate can be provided confirming your test result at no extra cost.
The clinic also offers a premium service with results available the next day before 8am for £245.
Alternatively, if you’re in no rush, you can go for an at-home testing kit for £145, which is carried out using a combined throat and nasal swab.
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