What is a PCR Test?


As the number of cases of Covid-19 continues to decline across NI, we now need to ensure that measures are in place to protect the public, as we go forward. That means taking all necessary precautions to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus and help return us to normality. Therefore, diagnosing and containing the spread of Covid-19 through testing remains imperative. 

Around 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 do not show symptoms, so a test that accurately detects these otherwise hidden cases is one of our best tools for tackling the virus. This is where the PCR test comes in. The PCR test detects the presence of genetic material from the Covid-19 virus. The PCR test is the “gold standard” test for diagnosing Covid-19 because it’s the most accurate and reliable. 

Private PCR Covid Test Northern Ireland 

For a test to be accurate, it must be carried out in a clinical environment. Self-administered home tests can lead to a risk of sample contamination and unreliable results. At JACE Medical, our clinic is run by healthcare professionals who are experienced in sampling and testing for Covid-19. Our aim is to enable you to be reunited with your loved ones in the safety that you won’t be putting them at risk. We also provide testing for corporations to assist in keeping your workforce safe and productive. 

PCR Test – How Does It Work?  

The PCR Test works in three key steps: 1) sample, 2) extraction, 3) PCR

  1. First, a sample is collected by using a swab to collect respiratory material. The swab is inserted into the nose. After collection the swab is sealed in a tube and sent off to the laboratory. 
  2. Once the laboratory technologists receive the sample, they begin the process called extraction. This process isolates the genetic material from the sample. 
  3. The PCR machine, called a thermal cycler, uses special chemicals which causes a reaction to occur. During this process, one of the chemicals produces a fluorescent light if Covid-19 is present in the sample. This light signifies a positive test result. 

PCR Test vs Antigen Test

There are two types of tests that detect Covid-19. The second is the antigen test. Both tests require a swab from the back of your nose or throat but unlike the PCR test, the antigen test does not require the sample to be sent to a lab. PCR testing has been proven to yield more accurate results than the antigen test. This is because the PCR test is more sensitive, allowing for the detection of very tiny quantities of the virus. Unlike the antigen test which is best used for detecting whether someone is infected with Covid-19 now. The PCR test can also be used to detect Covid-19 outside of the active infection period. Find out more about the antigen test here.