Do I need COVID-19 testing if I do not show any symptoms?
There is a misconception that COVID-19 testing is only for those who are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus. This is not the case. On the contrary, testing of those who do not experience symptoms is key to controlling the spread of COVID-19.
There is evidence to support that people can be infected with COVID-19 without experiencing symptoms. In an article published by The Guardian, Dr William Hillmann details that COVID-19 can yield ‘a significant spectrum of symptoms,’ from ‘people who are entirely asymptomatic’ to ‘people with severe illness.’
Furthermore, an article by Nature suggests that research estimates that asymptomatic patients ‘could represent some 60% of all infections.’ This high figure is linked to the fact that many people have contracted COVID-19 without undergoing travel or being associated with areas deemed to be hotspots.
This article also discusses the unique case of the Diamond Princess Cruise ship. In total, there were 3,711 passengers and staff who were all tested on multiple occasions. According to a study conducted by Chowell, 18% of 700 people who were infected did not show any symptoms. Chowell believes that when applying the study to wider society, this figure of 18% is likely to be higher, as there was a high percentage of elderly people on board the Diamond Princess who were more likely to be affected by COVID-19 and suffer symptoms.
Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to establish what percentage of people could be infected with COVID-19 without suffering from any symptoms, as the majority of COVID-19 tests are conducted on NHS frontline staff and those who are seriously ill.
It is likely that those who are infected with COVID-19 without exhibiting symptoms will still be contagious. Therefore, those who are asymptomatic can still benefit from undergoing COVID-19 testing. Moreover, we also offer antibody testing, which gives an indication of whether you have already had COVID-19.
Which COVID-19 test should I have?
If you would like to find out if you are currently infected with COVID-19, and could, therefore, pose a risk to others, you should undergo the PCR test. Take a swab of your nose or throat from the comfort of your own home and send this off to the laboratory. Medical professionals will examine the sample to establish if genetic material that is specific to COVID-19 is present. PCR testing can confirm if you are infected with COVID-19, whether or not you exhibit symptoms. Find out more about this type of test here.
If you want to discover if you have already had COVID-19, you can undergo the COVID-19 antibody test. This is a serological test and involves taking a blood sample to determine if Immunoglobulin M and Immunoglobulin G antibodies linked to COVID-19 are present in the blood. Please note that this type of test provides an indication only, and is strictly for organisations, healthcare establishments and professional use. Find out more about this type of test here.