As part of the COVID precautions I’ve already been taking in my physiotherapy clinic since I reopened to protect myself and my patients, I’ve bought a supply of Excalibur lateral flow COVID tests, and am testing myself twice a week.
I videoed myself taking one of the tests to show how it works… If you click on the video above, you’ll see my eyes watering as the mega cotton bud swab pokes me in the back of the nasal cavity! It’s certainly not a fun way to spend a couple of minutes, but luckily it is quite quick. (Spoiler: yet another negative test.)
The lateral flow tests look a bit like pregnancy tests – you swab the back of your nasal cavity, pop the swab into a test solution, and then dropper the swab solution onto the test card. And after 15 minutes, voila – either a positive test (bad – this means you have enough coronavirus in your system to be infectious), a negative test (good – you’re very unlikely to be spreading disease) or an invalid test (you didn’t get enough cells with your swab, try again!)
The Excalibur test is testing for antigens, which are which are the parts of the virus that trigger an immune response, so it shows whether you’re infectious or not. The Excalibur test has been shown to be 100% accurate when you’re highly infectious, and 99% accurate for people who are moderately infectious, which is pretty impressive! It has been shown to be sensitive to not just the initial COVID strain, but also the new more infectious strain that was found in London in December, and the South African variant.
Essentially, it’s the most accurate test on the market.
Using this doesn’t mean I can ease up on any of the precautions I’m taking, either at home or in clinic, and I’m currently offering virtual physio to anyone who doesn’t really need hands-on treatment; but it does provide some reassurance that I haven’t been spreading COVID around town!