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What is the difference between regular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and Lateral Flow (LFD) Tests?

Both the RT-PCR test and lateral flow test require a swab to be taken from the nose and throat. The RT-PCR is used for those who are experiencing symptoms and the swab is analysed in a lab.

Whereas, a lateral flow test is used for those not experiencing symptoms and the swab can be analysed using a lateral flow device at home, so the results can be returned within an hour. While LFDs are not as sensitive as lab-based RT-PCR tests, scientific advice has indicated that by testing more frequently with LFDs, their accuracy is on a par with RT-PCR tests and this is why we repeat the tests on a twice weekly basis.