Nurse Clinic COVID-19 antibody testing service

Attend one of our health clinics to get a COVID-19 antibody test. One of our trained nurses will collect a blood sample which will be sent to our partner lab and the results analysed by our team of Online Doctors.

Price: £70 (includes the nurse appointment)

Service only available in England and Wales due to current regulations.

About the COVID-19 antibody testing service

What does the service involve?
The service involves collecting a blood sample to perform a test to see if you have Coronavirus (SARS-COV-2) antibodies. The blood sample will be taken by one of our trained nurses via a venous blood draw. This means that we will collect a small sample of blood from one of your veins. The sample is then sent to a certified medical lab to be tested. Your results will be analysed by one of our Superdrug Online Doctors who will give you your results via the Superdrug Online Doctor platform.

This is not a PCR test to check if you have the COVID-19 Virus. The results of this test will not come with a Fit-to-travel or certificate of negative results.

How accurate are the results?
The COVID-19 antibody test is performed by Online Doctor’s partner lab, The Doctors Laboratory (TDL). TDL is a UK accredited medical lab who are responsible for performing the test and ensuring its accuracy. TDL is currently reporting a sensitivity of 99.98% and a specificity of 98.8%.

This means that:

  • In a group of 10,000 people who have antibodies to coronavirus in their blood, the test will identify 9,998 of them as being positive correctly, with only 2 out of every 10,000 being told they’re negative when they actually have detectable antibodies
  • In a group of 1000 people who do not have antibodies, this test will report a negative result in 988 of those people. This means that out of every 1000 cases, 12 may be told they have antibodies when they do not

Do I need to bring photograph ID to the nurse appointment?
Yes, you must bring Photo ID that is officially recognised such as driving licence, identity card or passport. The nurses will review to ensure the person providing the blood sample is the same person registered with Superdrug Online Doctor for the service.

Can I book a test for someone else?
You can book an appointment in the clinic for someone else if you have their permission. The person who is attending the appointment for the blood sample must register their details with Superdrug Online Doctor in advance of the appointment.

Age restrictions:
You must be over 18 years of age for the service.

In clinic COVID-19 guidelines
Before booking an appointment please read our safety guidelines before attending a clinic appointment. These guidelines in-line with government advice and have been implemented to protect both you and our teams. Click to guidelines

When should I book an appointment?
If you have experienced coronavirus symptoms you must wait at least 14 days before attending the clinic to have a blood sample collected. If you have not experienced any coronavirus symptoms you can still book an appointment for the service.

How is the blood sample sent to lab?
Our nurse will package your blood sample in a pre-paid envelope you will need to post the sample via a Royal Mail priority post box, this normally reaches the lab in 24 hours. For more details visit Royal Mail.

How long will it take to receive my results?
After you have posted your test through a Royal Mail priority post box, your results should be ready within two days of the lab receiving your sample. Once your results have been analysed by one of the Superdrug Online Doctors, a message will be sent to your online account.

Please be aware that our partner lab may not be able to generate a result from every test due to a variety of factors, this may include haemolysis of the sample. In these circumstances, we would do our best to offer a replacement test and nurse appointment that suits you.

If I get a positive result does this mean I am immune from Coronavirus?
A positive test result confirms you have previously had coronavirus and that your body has produced an immune response. It is still unclear that having the antibodies would result in long-lasting immunity which would prevent you from getting the virus again.

If you receive a positive result you should still follow the government guidelines on social distancing measures.

What will the COVID-19 antibody testing service tell me?
The service tests for the presence of antibodies to see if you have developed an immune response to the virus. This will tell you that you have previously had coronavirus.

Does a negative result mean I’ve not had COVID-19?
If you’ve not had typical COVID-19 symptoms before, then a negative result probably means you’ve not been infected. But, if you think you have previously had typical COVID-19 symptoms but have a negative antibody result, it may be that you have not had a sufficient immune response to it, or your antibody levels have dropped since your infection. It’s impossible to say who these people are without testing for antibodies. There is some evidence to suggest that antibody levels in some people may drop to undetectable levels some time after infection, but other parts of the immune system stay active. These B cells and T cells might provide some level of immunity, but we don’t have tests for them yet, and we don’t know what level of immunity they might provide. There are other tests which are being developed that might give a better indication of past infection, but these are in a research phase. Once they become available, we’ll let you know.

Is the service in-line with the government guidelines on antibody tests?
The service is in-line with the manufactures intended use for the COVID-19 test, when the manufacturer developed the laboratory test, they validated it against blood taken from veins. Government guidelines states, a COVID -19 testing service can be offered where a healthcare professional takes a venous blood sample from a patient to send to the lab for testing. This is a validated sample type and in line with the CE marked intended use.

The blood sample is collected by a registered nurse who is trained to take a venous blood sample. The test is performed by a UKAS-accredited laboratory using a CE-marked antibody test.

What COVID-19 tests are available in the UK?

COVID-19 testing in the UK has come a long way. After the first swab test in January 2020, testing for infection was initially reserved for hospital patients and key workers. But today, the NHS tests thousands of people with and without symptoms every day. Scientists and researchers continue to learn from the data, making tests more accurate, accessible and faster.

As of August 2020, there are two categories of COVID-19 tests in the UK: antigen testing (the PCR or swab test) and antibody testing. The first lets you know if you have COVID-19. The second lets you know if you’ve had COVID-19 before.

The PCR or ‘swab’ test

This test tells you if you have COVID-19. You or a healthcare professional use a long cotton swab to take samples from deep inside your nose and the back of your throat. The test looks for traces of the virus, more specifically the genetic information (or RNA) specific to COVID-19. These tests can detect RNA before any symptoms show, making them effective at picking up the disease early.

Children and adults living in the UK can access this test for free through the NHS if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone with the virus.

Superdrug are able to offer this test to patients that require a certificate to show they do not have the virus for example if if required to travel. Superdrug do not currently offer the test as part of the Government Test to Release.

The serology or antibody test

This test tells you if you have ever had COVID-19 before. A trained healthcare professional takes a blood sample from a vein in your arm, which they then test for antibodies. Antibodies circulate in blood, making it the best fluid to test. Unlike the swab test, this test doesn’t tell you if you have COVID-19 now. Rather, it tells you if you’ve had the illness in the past and recovered.

Why is this helpful? Governments and healthcare bodies can understand how COVID-19 spreads, how strong immunity is and how long immunity lasts – useful for developing containment strategies, treatments and vaccines.

It may also satisfy your curiosity. Researchers say some 40% of people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic (i.e. show no symptoms). You may have had COVID-19 but never known. An antibody test can tell you.

How long do the COVID-19 tests take?

To collect a sample, both tests take between 10 and 15 seconds. Depending on your area, you’ll get a result from your swab test within 12 to 72 hours, and results from antibody tests within two to three days. You need to book all tests online.

What is rapid testing?

Rapid tests are the latest innovation in testing. They are PCR swab tests designed to detect COVID-19 infections faster, within 60 to 90 minutes.

COVID-19 Rapid Testing is currently not available in Superdrug Health Clinics.

The UK government has approved two different rapid tests, which are rolling out in UK hospitals and care settings:

  • LamPORE tests: Process swab and saliva samples in traditional and ‘pop-up’ laboratories at the point of care.
  • DNA ‘Nudgebox’ machines: Analyse DNA in nose swabs on location.

Private organisations are also developing rapid antibody tests. The AbC-19 Rapid Test by Abingdon Health, for example, uses blood from a finger prick to look for COVID-19 antibodies in 20 minutes, without needing a laboratory. This test recently received its CE mark, approving it for professional use.

Can the COVID-19 tests be done at home?

Currently, all test samples need to be analysed by healthcare professionals. While you can take the swab sample for the PCR test at home, you still need to send it in for results.

For the antibody test, only trained healthcare professionals can take the blood sample. Free antibody testing is available to NHS and care staff, and some hospital patients and care home residents. You might also be offered a free test when having other blood work done.

If you are interested in taking an antibody test outside of a hospital, you can pay for one – such as the Superdrug test – at a private health clinic.

What COVID-19 test does Superdrug offer?

Superdrug healthcare clinics offer both the PCR swab test and serology or antibody test.

The PCR swab test costs £99 and is available in selected nurse clinics only.

The antibody test costs £70 and is available to anyone in the UK over the age of 18.

Nurses take a sample it is tested in UKAS accredited laboratories, with results returned in two to three days.

What does a positive COVID-19 test result mean?

On a swab test, a positive result means you have COVID-19. You need to isolate for 14 days and inform those you’ve been in contact with, so that they can isolate and get tested too.

On an antibody test, a positive test result means you have COVID-19 antibodies, so you have been infected before. However – and this is important – it does not mean you are immune to the virus. Researchers are still trying to understand how immunity against COVID-19 works. For the same reason, a negative result on an antibody test doesn’t always mean you’ve never had COVID-19 before. New evidence shows antibodies in some people are short-lived.

In either case, you’re still susceptible to the virus, so continue practising social distancing and good hand hygiene.

Are the COVID-19 tests accurate?

No test is 100% accurate, but the COVID-19 tests are, in general, reliable. Superdrug’s antibody test has a sensitivity of 97.5%, meaning that of 1,000 people who have had COVID-19, 975 will correctly test positive.

Taking the tests at the correct time helps improve accuracy. For antigen, or swab, tests, taking the test within the first three days of showing symptoms gives the most accurate result.

Healthcare professionals recommend taking the antibody test at least 14 days after symptoms start (or two weeks after first exposure to the virus in the case of asymptomatic cases). This is because human bodies typically start producing antibodies eight to ten days after infection.

Should I get a COVID-19 test?

Reliable, accurate and accessible testing is key to squashing the spread of COVID-19. If you think you have – or have ever had – COVID-19, getting tested helps everyone out. The free swab test is the most important one to take. There are over 600 dedicated facilities set up for this test across the UK, making it easier for you to access.

Sources

  • https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/get-a-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus/
  • https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/antibody-test-to-check-if-youve-had-coronavirus/
  • https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-tests-and-testing-kits-for-coronavirus-covid-19-work/for-patients-the-public-and-professional-users-a-guide-to-covid-19-tests-and-testing-kits
  • https://www.bupa.co.uk/newsroom/ourviews/coronavirus-tests
  • https://www.gov.uk/government/news/roll-out-of-2-new-rapid-coronavirus-tests-ahead-of-winter
  • https://www.abingdonhealth.com/uk-covid-19-rapid-antibody-tests-approved-for-professional-use/

COVID-19 Travel Top Tips

Borders are opening again and travel restrictions are easing. But is it safe to travel during COVID-19? We answer all your questions and give you tips for staying safe.

Am I allowed to travel during COVID-19?

With the easing of lockdown, domestic travel within the UK is now allowed. However, local councils are still appealing to the public not to flock to popular destinations at popular times, such as the beach on a hot day. This causes crowding, making social distancing a challenge.

International travel is also possible, but not every border is open yet. Countries like Japan are still closed to UK visitors. Where borders are open, restrictions vary. Some countries require an exemption visa or a 14-day quarantine when you enter.

Before you book a trip, check the travel restrictions and guidelines for the country you’re visiting. These guidelines change daily, so monitor them right up until your departure – and even throughout your trip.

Is it safe to travel during COVID-19?

When it comes to avoiding COVID-19, the safest place to be is at home. Travel increases your exposure to people and, therefore, the virus. For this reason, those over the age of 60 or with underlying health conditions should consider postponing their travel until it’s safer to do so.

If you do travel, you can help make it safer for everyone by playing your part. Continue following the same good hygiene practices you do at home. Keep two metres away from others and wash your hands as often as possible.

You should never travel if you have COVID-19 symptoms, or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 symptoms in the last two weeks.

Are aeroplanes safe to use during COVID-19?

Aeroplanes put you in close proximity with others, so they aren’t risk-free. However, airlines are working hard to make air travel as safe as possible, including deep cleaning their planes and giving staff protective equipment to wear. You can also help by practising good hygiene, washing your hands often, wearing a mask and sneezing / coughing into tissues.

Do I need to self-isolate when I travel?

On arrival: Some countries, like Australia and South Korea, require UK visitors to quarantine for 14 days when entering. It’s best to check with a travel site, or government website, to see if your destination is on the quarantine list.

On return: When returning home, a large number of countries are on the UK exemption list (also known as the travel corridor list), meaning you do not need to self-isolate when you get back. However, if you return to the UK from Canada, the United States of America, South America, most of Africa and any other region not on the exemption list, you’ll need to quarantine for two weeks. The UK government reviews and updates the exemption list as infection levels change, so make sure to regularly check it.

In-transit: If you make a transit stop, either on the way to or back from your destination, you may need to self-isolate if this area is not on the exemption list. Remember, you’ll need to check the exemption list of both the UK and the country you’re travelling to.

During your trip: If you develop COVID-19 symptoms during your trip, or are exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms, you will need to self-isolate at your destination for up to 14 days. This could impact your travel plans and prolong your stay. To protect yourself financially, consider taking out travel insurance to cover unexpected costs. When budgeting for your holiday, also keep extra cash aside in case you need to stay longer.

Do I need an immunity passport?

Some countries were experimenting with immunity passports – certificates issued to people who have recovered from COVID-19. The idea was to show your immunity, marking you as ‘safe’. However, the World Health Organisation does not recommend immunity passports. Researchers are still trying to understand how immunity against COVID-19 works. It’s not yet clear how long immunity lasts or how strong it is, meaning immunity certificates aren’t 100% effective.

When do I need a passenger locator form?

As part of its Test and Trace system, the UK introduced passenger locator forms. All residents and visitors need to complete this form when entering the UK from overseas. You need to complete the form online up to 48 hours before you enter, ready to show at the border.

You don’t need this form if you’re travelling domestically, or returning from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Do I need to wear a mask when travelling?

Each country has different rules for wearing masks, with some stricter than others. The general guideline, however, is to wear a mask where social distancing is not possible. This includes on public transport like aeroplanes, trains and buses (including at airports and stations). It may also include indoor areas, such as shops and museums. Some countries, like South Africa, require you to wear a mask at all times when outside your home – even when you’re outdoors. Again, check the rules in your areas.

Should I get a COVID-19 test?

Reliable, accurate and accessible testing is key to squashing the spread of COVID-19. If you think you have – or have ever had – COVID-19, getting tested helps everyone out. The free swab test is the most important one to take. There are over 600 dedicated facilities set up for this test across the UK, making it easier for you to access.

Tips for safer travel during COVID-19

Travelling during COVID-19 means taking more precautions than usual. However, if you follow the guidelines, travelling can still be enjoyable.

  • Always follow the travel guidance outlined by your country.
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest restrictions and developments at your destination (including rules for entry, public transport, face coverings etc.). This information is easy to find online, through travel and government sites, or through embassies. Most importantly, be prepared to follow the rules.
  • For peace of mind, chat to your airline and accommodation provider about their safety and hygiene measures.
  • Always carry hand sanitiser, cleansing wipes and a supply of face coverings. Have enough face coverings to wear a clean one at least every day.
  • Consider travel insurance with appropriate cover in the case of unforeseen changes.
  • Consider making bookings with cancellation options. Opt for tickets or bookings that are refundable, so that you’re financially protected in case plans change.
  • Plan to use contactless payments. Chat to your bank about contactless options at your destination to avoid using cash.

The best advice? Plan ahead

The best way to travel during COVID-19 is to plan ahead. For example, booking all your activities online ahead of time, paying contactless and skipping any queues. Look up the busiest times at attractions and go when it’s quieter. Avoid using public transport during rush hour, or look for alternatives like cycling and walking.

With a little bit of extra work, travelling during COVID-19 can be less stressful – and safer for you.

Sources

  • https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors
  • https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus/
  • https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control
  • https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers-53221896

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