Your sample will be analysed by a UKAS accredited laboratory.
How quickly can I get results?
From ordering your test to getting results, the process usually takes 4-6 days:
- Postage to you: 1-2 days
- Postage to the lab: 1-2 days
- Lab processing: 1-2 days
These timings are guidelines only. We recommend ordering this test as soon as you might need it, so you have your home testing kit in advance.
What is the coronavirus (COVID-19) PCR swab test?
This swab test uses a type of testing called RT-PCR (real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction). A PCR test checks for a type of genetic material (RNA) found in SARS-CoV-2 — the coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19.
How do I do this PCR swab test?
This home test requires you to use the tip of a swab (like a cotton bud) to gently swab your throat and nose. It only takes a few minutes to collect your sample and our easy to follow instructions will guide you through each step.
How accurate is this swab test?
The PCR swab test is one of the main types of tests being used to diagnose COVID-19 in the UK. It’s a highly reliable type of testing and has a minimum sensitivity of 98% and a specificity of 100%.
- 98% sensitivity: If 1000 people with COVID-19 do a test, 980 will get a correct positive result.
- 100% specificity: If 1000 people who don’t have COVID-19 do a test, 1000 will get a correct negative result.
What will the results I can download include?
You’ll be able to download a copy of your lab results from your online dashboard. This will include:
- your name, sex, and date of birth
- the test provider and type of test (RT-PCR)
- the type of virus being detected (SARS-CoV-2)
- whether SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 infection) was detected or not
- the date and time you collected your sample
- the date and time your sample was received and processed
- the date and time your result certificate was issued
- the name and contact details of the UKAS accredited lab that processed your sample
Can I use these results for travelling?
Your results PDF can be used in some cases, but it depends on the airline you’re flying with and the country you’re entering. Policies are changing frequently, so we recommend contacting your airline and monitoring country requirements to confirm what you need. Double check that the country you’re flying to will accept a RT-PCR COVID-19 swab test (analysed by a UKAS accredited laboratory) and the information on your results download (see previous question for details).
I require a negative PCR COVID-19 swab test within a specified time-frame. How can I get this?
We recommend doing your test at the earliest opportunity. For example, if you require a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before flying, then collect your sample 72 hours before your flight. And make sure to post your sample immediately in a priority postbox.
What does it mean if I get a negative result?
A negative result means you don’t have a COVID-19 infection at the time of testing — no genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 was detected. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, it’s important to continue self-isolating in case your sample was collected too early, too late, or incorrectly. If NHS Test and Trace have advised you to self-isolate because of contact with someone who has COVID-19, a negative result doesn’t change this. COVID-19 might be contagious 48 to 72 hours before you start to experience symptoms. Some research suggests that people might be most likely to spread the virus to others during the 48 hours before they start to experience symptoms.
What does it mean if I get a positive result?
A positive result means you have coronavirus (COVID-19) at the time of testing. If you test positive, it’s important that you and your household self-isolate. You should also notify people you have recently been in contact with. This test won’t tell you if you have antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 (see our coronavirus antibodies test) or if you are immune from future infection.
Can I get a false positive result?
This type of test only detects genetic material in SARS-CoV-2, meaning it will only show a positive result if you are infected — it has 100% specificity. But you can sometimes do the test too early or too late and miss the opportunity to catch the infection (this is more likely to happen if you don't develop any symptoms).
Can I get a false negative result?
A false negative is when you get a negative result, and it should have been positive. It’s unlikely, but this can happen in a small number of cases. This test has a high sensitivity of 98% — if 1000 people with COVID-19 do a test, only 20 will get an incorrect negative result. If you received a negative result but still have symptoms, continue to self-isolate.
Will results be shared with Public Health England?
Yes, all laboratories are required to inform Public Health England of COVID-19 PCR results. Your details will be securely shared with them by the lab. If your result is positive, Public Health England might use your contact details to arrange testing for people you’ve been in contact with.
Should I order this test if I currently have COVID-19 symptoms?
If you think you have COVID-19, it’s best to do this test within 3 days of your symptoms starting — but you can still do it up to 5 days after. It’s possible to still get a positive result after this time but there’s no guarantee. If you’ve had symptoms for a few days, a private health care facility that offers PCR testing might give you a higher chance of diagnosing COVID-19.
When should I do this test if I’ve been in contact with someone who has COVID-19?
The time from when you’re exposed to the virus to your symptoms starting (the incubation period) is thought to be 3-14 days — but symptoms usually appear within 4-5 days after exposure. We recommend waiting at least 5 days (or 14 days to be certain) before testing. But you can do it sooner if you develop symptoms.
Why don’t you offer this test to people under 18 years?
Thriva is only available for people over 18 years. We’re looking into offering services for children, but for now it’s not something we offer.