COVID-19 testing solution, with results in 15 minutes

At ICS, we are supporting many sectors with rapid, on-site COVID-19 testing, including education, retail, large corporations and hospitality. Whether it’s testing staff in the event of a small outbreak or maintaining confidence in the work environment, our rapid antigen testing solution has many benefits.

What is rapid antigen testing?

Rapid antigen testing is a point-of-care nasal swab test which delivers an on the spot result when detecting the presence of live COVID-19 virus. It is carried out on-site by a healthcare professional provided by Independent Clinical Services. One nurse can test around 10-15 people per hour. We supply the tests, the specialist trained staff to carry them out, and then if needed, an after-service to assist with any track and trace needs.

How does this compare to the standard, widely used (in the NHS and the community) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test used to detect COVID-19? 

Turnaround time Accuracy Cost
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Up to 3 days to get results* 99.3% (would miss 1/100) Cost of PCR over £100
Rapid Antigen PoC Nasal Swab 15-minutes 97% (would miss 3/100) Nearer £20

*NHS

Our rapid antigen nasal-swab test has comparable sensitivity and accuracy, with a few percentage points less sensitivity than the PCR test. PCR is 99.3% accurate (it would miss 1 person in 100). A nasal-swab test is 97% accurate: 3 in every 100 would be missed. Test accuracy is also heavily dependent on the test being conducted by a qualified medical professional.

However, the lower sensitivity level is mitigated by the fact that the nasal-swab test delivers results within 15 minutes. The PCR test can take up to 3 days to return once someone is able to get an appointment with the lab.

The cost of a PCR test is over £100 with the rapid antigen nasal-swab test costing nearer £20, and it’s easier to use – arguably less uncomfortable for the person being tested.

When to use rapid antigen testing?

Our rapid antigen testing solution can be used to test employees on a regular basis, giving them confidence that they are safe in work. It can also be used in response to a potential outbreak and to protect the wider workforce. Our nurses can be deployed at very short notice to test your staff and help avoid any closure to your operations.

Approval

The test is approved in the European Union, was recently approved by the FDA in the US and is commonly used in French airports. It’s also been widely adopted for mass testing in Italy and South Korea.

The test already has CE approval. In order for a test to be deemed safe to use, the company that develops this test must comply with the In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices Directive as implemented in the UK by Part IV of the Medical Devices Regulations 2002. Once they do, they can print a ‘CE’ mark on their test which means that the test meets all the legal criteria. UK notified bodies are overseen by the MHRA mentioned above.

Looking into 2021 

Apart from holding on to the hope of a vaccine, our view is that LAMP-based saliva testing is likely to become available early in 2021. This will be cheaper, easier and more convenient. But now, the best option outside of PCR is rapid antigen testing, using the nasal-swab.