With health, there can be no room for errors. Slight inaccuracies can cause unforeseen consequences. COVID-19 diagnoses form an essential part of fighting the virus. One way to diagnose is through lateral flow tests.
Lateral flow tests (LFTs) have made it easier to identify new COVID-19 cases. The simplicity and convenience have made lateral flow tests in the UK a popular way to test for the virus. However, consider the accuracy factor before rushing to the store to buy a LFT.
If you and an individual or organization are considering lateral flow tests, this article is for you. Read on to discover how accurate lateral flow tests are in diagnosing COVID-19 virus.
Lateral Flow Tests Explained
Lateral flow tests detect COVID-19 through testing for viral proteins. The viral proteins are also called antigens. Currently, there are 5975 new COVID cases in England. Therefore, lateral flow tests still play a significant role in detection and management.
Lateral flow tests come in a well-packaged test kit. The kit contains a manual to guide users when doing the test. Also, LFTs do not require additional lab resources during testing. They come as a self-sufficient tool for diagnosis.
The Accuracy Factor
When buying any diagnostic tool, accuracy becomes a significant factor to consider. The accuracy of lateral flow tests determines the viability of the results. Lateral flow tests can accurately detect COVID-19 in a person with symptoms.
Another accuracy factor to consider is the lateral flow test brand. Before buying LFTs, confirm if the brand manufactures quality kits. You can check previous consumer reviews online. Also, check whether the brand has the essential certificates.
Even though COVID-19 is still spreading, the rate keeps decreasing from one year to another. In the recent past a lot of people have gotten infected but with a low viral road. A high viral load makes it easier for a LFT to determine a positive COVID-19 case accurately. Also, lateral flow tests can detect COVID-19 in patients with mild symptoms.
Note that lateral flow tests can detect any COVID-19 variant. The virus variant does not affect the accuracy of lateral flow tests. Therefore, you can use LFTs to detect new COVID variants.
Using Lateral Flow Test From Home
The best thing about lateral flow tests is using them from home. It is easy to use a LFT. You only need to read and follow the kit’s instructions when taking the test. Here’s what you need to do:
Your test kit contains the ultimate guide for testing. You must refer to the instructions when testing. After collecting the sample, put the swab in the tube. Next, place the liquid from the tube on the test strip.
- Collect the Sample
Lateral flow tests use swabs to collect samples from the throat or mouth. Maintain high hygiene when collecting the specimen. Being sanitary during sample collection facilitates getting accurate results from the LFTs.
- Check the Results
Wait for the recommended time on the kit to check the results. Usually, it takes 15-30 minutes to have the LFT results. Refer to the instructions if you need help reading the results. After checking the results, remember to dispose of the used LFT kit in a sanitary manner.
Things That Can Affect Lateral Flow Test Accuracy
A lateral flow test can have accuracy problems due to some of the reasons below:
The best time to do a LFT COVID-19 test is when experiencing symptoms. You may also do the test after being in contact with a person who is COVID-19 positive.
- Failure to Follow Instructions
Remember instructions regardless of whether you have used a LFT kit. Different kits have varying instructions. A mark should be present during testing to ensure the results are accurate. If you get invalid results, repeat the test using the instructions.
Contaminating the test sample interferes with accuracy. You can get a false negative or a false positive result due to contamination. It is vital to maintain high sanitary conditions during testing.
- Test Kit Expiration
If the LFT kit expires, it will likely give inaccurate results. Before using the LFT, check whether it is valid. Expired kits are ineffective in detecting COVID-19. Get another proper kit to test in case you find yours expired.
Do You Need To Follow Up With PCR Test?
Lateral flow tests are sufficient in diagnosing COVID-19. Hence, you are not required to follow up with a PCR test. If you get a positive result, you must self-isolate and seek health care if you have symptoms.
Sometimes, you may experience COVID-19 symptoms and get a negative LFT result. In this case, you can ask a healthcare professional for advice. If your healthcare provider recommended following up with a PCR test, follow the recommendations.
Tips To Get Accurate Lateral Flow Test Results
When doing a COVID-19 lateral flow test, you can apply some of the tips below to ensure results accuracy:
- Follow test kit instructions religiously
- Wash your hands before handling the kit
- Sanitize the surfaces where you intend to do the test
- Ensure you use a dry surface to lay the test
- Use a test from a reputable manufacturer
- Avoid reusing or sharing the swab
- Avoid moving the test kit until after reading the results
- Follow the proper disposal procedure
Disclosure: This is a featured post.