COVID Test Centre Links



All staff working on the Community Testing Programme are now eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccination.

Area Managers are visiting sites this week to schedule your appointments.


What do we know about new virus variant in the UK?

The new variant (SARS-CoV-2 VOC202012/01) transmits more easily than the previous one but there is no evidence that it is more likely to cause severe disease or mortality.

Labs have been issued with guidance to adapt processes to ensure that PCR tests can detect this variant. PCR tests can be adapted rapidly to respond to the new variant.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that the approved vaccines in use would not protect people against the new variant. Further laboratory work is currently being undertaken as a priority to understand this.

Are LFD tests able to detect the new virus variant?

The lateral flow devices (LFDs) deployed nationally have been assessed against Variants of Concern (VOC) 202012/01 Kent-UK and 202012/02 South Africa at PHE Porton Down.  They include a large number of changes in the spike protein but less in the nucleocapsid protein.  The antigen target of the LFDs deployed is nucleocapsid protein and they have successfully detected these variants.

Will the vaccine protect me?

The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19 disease. It may take a few weeks for your body to build up protection from the vaccine. The vaccine has been shown to be effective and no safety concerns were seen in studies of more than 20,000 people. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective – some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe.

Can I give COVID-19 to anyone, after I have had the vaccine?

The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 infection, and two doses will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill. We do not yet know whether it will stop you from catching and passing on the virus. So, it is important to follow the guidance in your local area to protect those around you. To protect yourself and your family, friends and colleagues you still need to:

  • practise social distancing
  • wear a face mask
  • wash your hands carefully and frequently
  • follow the current guidance

Should testing continue now that vaccination has started?

Testing should continue and all non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) should continue despite vaccination. The clinical trial evidence demonstrates that vaccine reduces clinically severe infection and severe disease. However, the impact on minor infection, asymptomatic carriage and transmission remains unknown. Therefore, the use of LFDs and PCR for asymptomatic testing should continue and will continue to be reviewed.

Should people remain part of the testing programme if they have had a first dose of the vaccine and are unable to work from home?

Yes. It is still possible to get COVID-19 following a single dose of the vaccine. We also don’t yet know whether individuals who have been vaccinated could still transmit COVID-19 disease to others. To protect yourself and those around you, you should still regularly test and self-isolate if you get a positive result.

Is it possible for people to get a positive test result as a result of having the vaccine?

No. The LFD test detects a different protein of the virus than the one encoded in the vaccine, and the PCR test detects different genes of the virus than the one included in the vaccine.  There is no possibility of cross reaction.

What happens if someone with a positive test result receives a negative result from a different test?

The subject should be following requirements from the national guidance and tracing notifications from the first test. They shouldn’t be doing repeat testing in this period (except for settings where confirmatory PCR applies). If they decide to get a different test, they should still follow national guidance and can contact the help line to discuss their particular case.

Repeat Testing

Subjects that have tested positive by PCR for COVID-19 are exempt from routine re-testing by PCR or LFD tests within a period of 90 days from their initial illness onset or test (if asymptomatic) unless they develop new COVID-19 symptoms.

Subjects participating in specific authorised programmes may be tested within this 90-day period.

If a subject decides to take part in testing within the 90-day period, they should follow the latest government guidance:

For management of staff and exposed patients or residents in health and social care settings:

What happens if someone uses a different solution to the manufacturer’s extraction solution to perform the test?

In order to produce an accurate result, the guidance for processing a test must be adhered to. The manufacturer’s extraction solution is the only solution that can be used to conduct the test.

When processing the swab samples, the extraction solution provided acts as a buffer and is optimised to release viral antigens from the specimen if they are present. During the test analysis, if present in a person’s sample, these antigens migrate along the strip in the lateral flow device and a coloured line appears in the rest region (Line T) on the device. This uses a well-established technique called immunochromatography, which draws the sample along the device in a similar way to a home pregnancy test kit.

Need for consent

Local authorities need to be aware of requirements for informed consent for conducting the test and have a process for people who do not have capacity to give informed consent. Local authorities must make sure that they seek the appropriate consent from a consultee, in line with the Mental Capacity Act 2005. A consultee may be a parent or guardian, or a carer, and the individual must be fully informed to make the decision.

People with additional needs (this could be physical or cognitive disability) might not be able to self

swab. If the person has the capacity to consent, they should be asked if they will allow someone to help them do the test, or to allow someone to do the test for them. If the person does not have the capacity to consent, consultee (e.g. a parent, guardian or a carer) can consent on their behalf. Carers or other accompanying individuals should only be asked to assist or test the person if this falls into their normal responsibilities and they feel comfortable and confident on doing so.

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