How to choose a COVID testing company

October 22, 2021
How to choose a COVID testing company

As testing for Covid continues to become more and more prevalent in the fight against controlling the disease, the amount of companies offering Covid testing continues to rise too. The number of private testing companies that are now available to us can be overwhelming. Picking just one can be hard when doing it for the first time as many of us do not have a great deal of experience in this remit. For example, what makes a good COVID19 testing company? Or you may be wondering, what do I need a reputable COVID19 testing company to provide?

Here, we look to answer these questions as well as highlighting other basic need-to-know info surrounding COVID19 testing that will help you pick the best COVID19 testing company for you and your requirements.

What do I need a COVID19 test for?

COVID19 tests can help confirm whether you have the virus or not. While that is largely understood to be one of the best ways to control the virus - while still allowing individuals to live a normal day to day life - there are particular instances where you will need either a lateral flow test or PCR test due to requirements set by Governments or to gain access to sporting events or similar.

The most obvious case for needing a COVID19 test is to confirm whether your symptoms are caused by the virus or not. However, other common situations where taking a test is advantageous is if you have come into contact with a person that has tested positive for COVID19. In both of these instances, however, if you are in the UK, you can have a test for free on the NHS. There are numerous local COVID testing sites that can take a swab for you, or that will give you a self-test kit to submit there and then.

There are many instances, though, where a private test is required as the NHS cannot foot the bill for all necessary tests. The most common instance is when people want to go travelling. While the travel industry is constantly having to grapple with changing policy as to what countries require what sort of tests, and by what type of individual (vaccinated vs unvaccinated), the fact of the matter is that many of us need a PCR or lateral flow test to get on a plane.

Who can I contact for a private COVID19 test?

The Government currently does not endorse any private test provider. But, it does provide a list of private providers for both general COVID19 testing as well as test to release testing for individuals arriving into the UK from another country. It is an extensive and comprehensive list with many companies mentioned alongside their contact details. The problem is that it is so vast. It is one of the reasons that it is so overwhelming picking just one company that will meet your requirements.

Additionally, the list does not immediately mean that the company is UKAS accredited. However, it does mean that those companies have at least demonstrated that they have met the minimum standards - which are needed if they want to begin going through the accreditation process. The two lists that the Government has produced are different because a company has to meet different minimum standards to be included on each list. Additionally, both lists are not fully exhaustive either (extensive as they are). For example, some companies are able to self declare that they have met the Government’s minimum requirements to be a reputable COVID19 testing organisation.

Picking between private providers of Covid19 testing

Given the vast number of private providers of COVID19 testing, knowing what to look for as standard in these companies is crucial. Doing so will ensure that you have a smooth experience working with them that is not eye-wateringly expensive either. Here are our suggestions for helping to pick a good COVID19 testing company:

Type of test

Firstly, you have to decide what type of test you need. Do you need just general testing or testing for travel purposes? And, within that, do you need a lateral flow test or a PCR test? Identify a company that offers the type of test you need and then analyse the below criteria to see whether it meets your own standards. Additionally, you need to consider how the company receives your test sample. Do you send it in the post? By a courier or do you have to drop it off in person?

Price

Of course, one of the main variables when it comes to these testing companies is the price. When private testing first started, there was a huge amount of variation. For those travelling, it could add a large cost to the final bill of a holiday - especially for bigger families. Now, however, prices have largely stabilised with more and more companies being up front as to how much the final price of a test costs. Companies are now starting to veer away from advertising one amount, only to add on taxes and delivery charges when it comes to paying.

Accreditation

As mentioned before, some companies self declare, while others have been checked that they have at least the minimum standards required by the Government. Others have managed to attain UKAS accreditation. Depending on what you need and why, you may find that you do not always need a company with the accreditation, or you may find a big comfort in using a company that has attained it.

Reviews

Finally, reading reviews is a great place to ascertain whether a company is reputable or not. Some will identify fundamental issues with a company that will immediately put off any prospective customers. Whereas some reviews will confirm that a potential company provides an excellent service with prompt test results and an easy to follow procedure.

Private COVID19 testing companies - key takeaways

The demand for COVID19 testing was so sudden that the proliferation of testing companies trying to answer that demand was arguably difficult for the Government to keep tabs on in a systematic way. As a result, some companies arose that did not provide a competent or reliable service - tarnishing the rest of the industry. But that is not to say that all testing companies are like that by any means. Quite the opposite. Our review will help you identify the best COVID19 testing companies that are reputable and the ones that will offer the service they say they can, right from the very start.

Rachel Lee

Having worked at Morgan Stanley and BNYMellon for over 10 years in pensions and investments, Rachel now works as a full-time business and financial writer.

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