Testing for COVID-19 is crucial to understand who is infected and therefore a risk to others by spreading the infection.
We perform polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests repeatedly, at least every two days for staff or when a visitor attends the clinic. We have also continued to test for antibodies. By repeating these tests over time, we can establish how long the antibodies take to develop and how long immunity may last in each person.
This page provides a summary of our COVID-19 testing results, further details can be accessed by using the buttons shown below.
COVID-19 Test Results
The graphs above show that the number of weekly tests has decreased in recent weeks. This is due to Richmond Research Institute's ongoing commitment to ensure staff safety by increasing home working measures... Read more
Furthermore, travel restrictions imposed by the government mean that fewer volunteers were able to access the unit for testing. As these restrictions continue to be reviewed and will likely be loosened over the coming weeks, we aim to boost testing for COVID-19 again shortly.
Summary of Results
The graphs above show that since March 2020 out of 256 members of staff at the clinical trials unit, 42 tested positive for COVID-19 by PCR and 47 have produced antibodies. For those testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies we have measured a decline in their antibody level over time. Our latest publication 'Why the SARS-CoV-2 antibody test results may be misleading: insights from a longitudinal analysis of COVID-19' shows our results align with the study led by Imperial College reporting a decline in the number of people with detectable antibody levels in England.
Due to the stringent safety measures in place and continued monitoring of staff, only six new positive cases have been recorded among employees over the past eleven weeks in contrast to the recent surge in cases across the UK4,5,6,7.
Updated on 17th December 2020
Overview of the COVID-19 tests
Three tests are being conducted: a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, a COVID-19 Rapid Antibody Test and a Chemiluminescent Microparticle Immunoassay (CMIA) test.
By using different tests, we can determine whether a person is currently infected with the COVID-19 virus or if they previously had the virus. This is important because many people may not develop any symptoms after becoming infected and thus may not be aware that they are spreading the virus.
View more info about each test using the plus symbols below:
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
The PCR test is currently a gold standard to check for COVID-19 infections. It measures whether SARS-CoV-2 genetic material is present in a person’s system. At Richmond Research Institute, we take throat swab samples and can produce PCR test results within just 20 minutes.
We are using the Menarini Fast Point-of-care RT-PCR test. For positive cases, we also send a sample to be verified by an independent laboratory. This allows us to check for false positive results.
Rapid Antibody Test
The COVID-19 Rapid Antibody test, known as the RAPG-COV-019 kit by Biopanda, indicates whether someone has had the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is potentially immune. It measures Immunoglobulin G (IgG) and Immunoglobulin M (IgM) - antibodies produced by the body as it fights the virus.
Usually, it takes five to 10 days for these antibodies to become measurable in blood. Over time, IgM levels will drop, while IgG levels will increase and peak at around 30 days. This allows us to measure if people had a corona virus infection. The challenge with these tests is that they are not sensitive or specific; therefore, another corona virus infection may cause a positive test result.
By using the RAPG-COV-019 antibody test kit on finger prick blood samples we can generate results within 10 minutes.
Chemiluminescent Microparticle Immunoassay (CMIA)
We are also using another antibody test where we can measure the levels of antibodies to see how these change over time. The Abbott Laboratories chemiluminescent microparticle immunoassay (CMIA) works by binding to SARS-CoV-2-specific IgG antibodies in a blood sample. Upon binding to IgG, a luminescent signal is generated, which can be measured and is directly proportional to the concentration of SARS-CoV-2-specific IgG antibodies.
Richmond Research Institute is continuously evaluating new test methods that produce fast and accurate results.
We continue to actively source new point of care tests which are simple, fast, and can be administered frequently. The ability to identify infectious individuals quickly is essential to ensure normality is restored.
Working with our partner organisation, Richmond Pharmacology Limited (RPL), the initial emphasis of our COVID-19 response was on staff, clinical trial volunteers, and visitor safety.
At RPL’s London Bridge clinical trial facility which we use for our studies, RPL acted quickly and responsibly to mitigate the risks, implementing strict entry control measures for access to the research unit, evaluating key indicators such as symptom scores, body temperature, travel history, and contact tracing for anyone entering the building. The wearing of masks inside the research unit is mandatory and the number of people on site is limited to enable social distancing.
The testing regime is key as it is well-known that COVID-19 can be transmitted by asymptomatic carriers1