Can I Enter the UK with an Antigen Test?
As Covid cases fall and restrictions ease, it can be all too easy to forget about the prominent threat that the virus can play to our communities and those around us. With over 57,825 cases in the last 7 days alone, it’s important to continue to stay vigilant and aware of the threat of infection.
However, the relaxing of Covid rules has led many to wonder whether or not travel restrictions have changed - more specifically, it has made many ask the question, “can I enter the UK with an antigen test?”.
Studies show that global partnerships alongside the WHO helped to make 120 million affordable, quality Covid-19 antigen tests available for distribution to various different countries. This helped to make them one of the most popular and well-known methods of testing, both during the height of Covid and post-lockdown.
In this article, we will help you to understand what a rapid antigen test is, what it can be used for and whether or not it is necessary for entering the UK. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know Covid-19, antigen tests and travel restrictions.
What Is An Antigen Test?
A Covid-19 antigen test is the quickest and easiest method of finding out whether or not you have been infected with the virus in the last 5 days. Cheap and easy to manufacture, many countries have adopted the testing kits for their ease of production, not to mention their 80% accuracy in detecting the virus. But to understand their usefulness and capabilities, it’s important to know how they work, and what the test looks for when making a diagnosis.
Antigen testing is a suitable first line of defence test against Covid-19, particularly for individuals who have symptoms. Because it is a relatively simple procedure, and is quicker and easier than other approaches, it has become a global favourite method of testing.
A Covid-19 antigen test works by detecting Covid proteins in the user’s mouth and throat. They mix the sample taken from the patient with a solution that unleashes specific viral proteins - the mixture is then applied to a paper strip that contains a bespoke antibody optimised to bind these proteins if they are present. Similarly to a home pregnancy test, the result is reflected as a band on the paper strip.
Chemically speaking, antigen tests can detect the virus’ proteins rather than its RNA by using a slide that is covered in antibodies specific to the virus, which the sample will stick to if Covid-19 viral proteins are detected. After this, a second fluorescent antibody is then added to target the viral proteins and stick to the ones already on the strip. The fluorescence intensity then gives a measure of the concentration of the virus in the sample.
One of the reasons that antigen tests are so popular is because the process does not require a lab and can be done alone in up to 30 minutes. This makes it much easier for the test to be rolled out internationally for mass testing, as people can do them independently at home with instructions that are provided with the kits. Because of the built-in instructions, it is incredibly difficult for the tests to go wrong, which helps to make them an effective and useful first line of testing against the disease.
However, the ease of production and usage of antigen tests come at a cost to their accuracy; studies have found that people without Covid-19 symptoms correctly tested positive in 58.1% of rapid antigen tests, giving a very much 50/50 chance of accuracy in some cases.
What Can Antigen Tests Be Used For?
Antigen tests can be used for a range of different things, spanning from identifying infection to removing restrictions.
First and foremost, the antigen test is typically used to identify those infected with Covid-19. It serves as a somewhat reliable and easy way to check if someone is carrying the virus, which can help those impacted to self-isolate, seek treatment and stop the spread.
This is the most well-known use of the test, primarily because of the Covid outbreak and its significant usage during the following lockdowns. The test is still used today to identify cases of Covid-19, with different models of the test identifying various other viruses
However, tests can also be used for international travel, working as a useful tool to lower restrictions and gain easier access to various different countries. We found that rapid antigen tests are normally accepted by the EU & UK, and can get you into countries such as Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands.
Through further research, we also identified that because most are created by a government-listed provider with approved use by the EU they can be credible sources of information to prove to people that you are healthy to travel.
Their usefulness for travel post-lockdown has continued to maintain their popularity and usage, with the United Kingdom alone having used 503,270,347 Covid tests as of May 19th 2022. With so many returning to international travel, the antigen tests have been the perfect way for people to remove the barriers and travel more freely.
Can I Enter The UK With An Antigen Test?
Antigen tests are one of the quickest and easiest tests to perform, which makes them perfect for getting in and out of the UK effectively.
Originally, only PCR tests were accepted for travel as they were tested within a lab and were seen as more accurate. A PCR test, or a Polymerase Chain Reaction test, is a test that detects genetic material from a specific organism, such as a virus, and uses the data it collects to determine whether or not an individual has been infected. The reason that it is seen as more accurate is because it is conducted by trained professionals in a sterilised and controlled environment where the margins for error are much lower than that of the average household.
However, as the pandemic has progressed and the threat of Covid has somewhat been curved, many places and governments have begun to allow rapid antigen tests as a sign of being Covid-free. This is mainly because of their reliability - in people who did not have Covid-19, antigen tests correctly ruled out infection in 99.6% of people with symptoms and 99.7% of people without symptoms. This makes them an accurate and trustworthy replacement for PCR tests.
The United Kingdom is one of many countries that accept rapid antigen tests as a way of proving that you are Covid-19 free and safe to enter. Other countries with similar requirements include Canada, France, Luxemburg, Portugal, Spain, Sri Lanka and Uruguay, to name a few.
Although many countries are now scrapping their requirements and replacing them with heat testing at airports and borders, it is still important to use rapid antigen tests as a backup for both your health and your entry into the country. If there is even the slightest amount of doubt of your health whilst attempting to enter, you could be rejected and sent back home. However, if you have a rapid antigen test that shows that you have recently tested negative for Covid-19, you can save yourself the trouble and enter the country safely.
Do You Need An Emergency Covid Test?
If you believe that you may be suffering from Covid-19 and would like clarity so that you can seek treatment, it’s always best to take a test as soon as possible. Our specialist team is on hand around the clock to provide quality care and services to help get Covid-19 tests to you so that you can start the road to recovery earlier. With our innovative new services and products, we are able to provide you with a unique and speedy service that will help redefine the meaning of ‘customer service’ forever.
Our mission is always to reinvent the modern way of taking and receiving Covid-19 tests and provide a service which is reflective of modern-day issues and solutions. We have always been proud to be able to say that our service has catered to 15,000 travellers to date, with many more expected to come in the following years.
For more information on how to reach us and order your tests today, you can contact Official Rapid Tests using our online form for the quickest responses and swift support from members of our team. Alternatively, you may choose to book an appointment for consultation either in person or over the phone to discuss your options and what may suit you best. Whatever you choose to do, we have no doubt that you’ll find what you’re looking for with us.