Covid-19 testing

Covid-19 Testing


Covid-19 viral infections were first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Since then there has been a race to learn more about the illness, including how to diagnose it.

Swab Testing

Covid-19 symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat and loss of sense of smell. If you are experiencing symptoms we would recommend you are tested for Covid-19. We now have the ability to arrange swab tests for Covid-19. We will firstly arrange a phone or video consultation with one of our doctors, we will discuss your symptoms and how best to manage them. We will arrange for a courier to drop a swab test kit to your home and then collect it. We expect a laboratory result in 2-3 days. In the meantime if you have concerns about your symptoms, especially any shortness of breath or your symptoms are worsening after 7 days you should contact our clinic for help. We can arrange a home visit as needed for example to check oxygen saturations levels in the blood.

If one person in the household is confirmed to have Covid-19 we would recommend that other household members are tested. This is in keeping with the World Health Organisation advise to test and track every case.

What is a swab test?

We are using a Public Health England approved laboratory for our swab testing, they use a method called PCR (polymerase chain reaction). The laboratory is also supporting the NHS efforts to expand testing but they have confirmed they have ample spare capacity to allow private testing. The swab test kit uses a cotton swab to take a sample from the throat and nose. The kit contains full instructions on how to do this. We use a courier to drop and collect samples to enable a quicker result of the test for our patients. The swab test costs £175 for our Sage members, or £250 for pay as you go clients, including courier fees in the SW6 and SW10 areas. We would recommend performing a swab test in the first 7 days of illness to increase it’s accuracy. Swab tests can miss infections, for this reason it is important that if you are unwell and we suspect Covid-19 you and your household continue to follow the guidance on isolation. If the swab test is positive for Covid-19 this is highly accurate though and you can be highly confident that the illness is confirmed.

Antibody Testing

Many of our patients were unwell un February and March during the period when swab testing was limited and patients in the community were unable to be tested. We have been able to offer blood testing for patients who have had suspected Covid-19. We believe the current antibody tests we have available offer useful information to support patients who have had a recent suspected Covid-19 illness. We are only able to offer these tests as a tool to support the diagnosis in patients who have previous symptoms or exposure after a consultation to discuss symptoms and exposure as well as nature and accuracy of the tests in different settings. Hence, we only offer tests performed with a doctor, following a virtual consultation to assess your symptoms and possible exposure, to ensure you are appropriate to be tested and that you are fully informed and understand the nature and accuracy of the tests.

We have the Public Health England approved antibody tests by Abbott. We feel that antibody testing should be performed by a doctor in partnership with the patient having had a full discussion of the implications of the test and the results before and afterwards in a virtual consultation. The test is highly accurate. If the result is positive this is over 99% accurate in confirming a previous infection with Covid-19.

Studies show a negative result is also highly reliable, estimated at over 95% in the UK (if the test is done 21 days after the onset of symptoms). But we know a small percentage of people can have a ‘false negative’ result. They may have had a very mild illness or for some other reason does not have significant antibodies detected.

There have been some very interesting recent studies showing some people may be protected against Covid-19 by another part of the immune system, called T-cells. These cells are not yet easily checked for outside of research studies.

Regardless of any results, at present we MUST all continue to follow the government advice on social distancing, we do not yet know enough about testing and the virus to be confident on immunity long term.

Get in touch with reception today to book, email and your doctor will review your history and discuss the test. We have appointments available for the blood sample, which has to be taken by a doctor in the clinic. We then contact you with the results approximately 24 hours later. We can provide copies of results as needed.

Covid-19 antibody testing £150 including GP video consultation, sample taking by a doctor in our clinic and results. Sage members £75.

Dr Lucy Hooper