Glossary

Glossary

Antibody: a protective protein produced by the immune system in response to the presence of an antigen.

Antibody tests: Antibody tests are carried out to detect SARS-CoV-2 specific antibodies in the blood to determine if a person has previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). A past infection does not, however, rule out the possibility of another infection in the future.

Antigen: a substance (usually foreign) that can stimulate an immune response in the body.

Antigen tests: ​Antigen tests detect the presence of viral protein fragments (nucleocapsid protein) within the samples taken from the throat or nasal swabs of patients. They determine if someone is infected with the virus. There are 2 main types of antigen tests available – PCR and Rapid tests.

Coronavirus: a large group of viruses common among animals that cause illnesses from the common cold to more severe conditions such as pneumonia, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory syndrome (SARS)….as well as COVID.

COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019): an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei, China, and has resulted in an ongoing pandemic.

COVID-19 Testing: There are currently 2 types of testing being carried out – antigen testing for current infection and antibody testing to look for evidence of past infection or immunity.

Covid-19 vaccine: There is no vaccine available yet to prevent COVID-19 but researchers all over the world are working hard to find one. More than 300 vaccine candidates are in development and clinical trials are yet to be completed.

PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests: This is the most common type of testing currently being carried in the UK. The swab samples are sent to a laboratory where a machine is used to screen for genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 to determine the presence of a COVID-19 infection.

PPE (Personal protective equipment): PPE is equipment that will protect the user from health and safety risks at work. In a medical environment, it provides a barrier between the wearer’s eyes, mouth, nose or hands and the virus particles released into the air or contaminated surfaces. Different types of PPEs cater to different levels of risk. They are especially important in hospitals, GP surgeries, care homes and other community settings.

SARS-CoV-2: Severe Acute Respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 which is the strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Rapid tests (Lateral flow): Lateral flow tests are quick and relatively inexpensive tests which make use of a lateral flow test strip to detect the presence of a target substance in the samples without the need of specialised and costly equipment. They are widely used for home testing, point-of-care testing or laboratory use. A common example is the home pregnancy test. COVID-19 rapid tests detect the presence of the virus antigen in swab samples and results are usually obtained within 30 minutes.​

Vaccine: a substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity to a disease. It contains a weakened or killed form or parts of the microorganisms treated to act as an antigen to stimulate an immune response.

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