We Did Prenetics’ At-Home RT-PCR COVID-19 Test, Here’s What Happened

Writer Pearl Yan | May 12, 2020

Want to get tested for Covid-19 but worried about going to the hospital? Lucky for us, we now have access to a physician and WHO-recommended at-home COVID-19 test to get tested and diagnosed for Covid-19 from home in Hong Kong. Launched by leading global genetic testing and digital health company Prenetics, Project Screen by Circle is a non-profit initiative aiming to make safe, easy and accurate Covid-19 testing accessible in the community.

You may wonder, how accurate is the test? Project Screen utilises a sensitive and accurate methodology called RT-PCR to look for the RNA of the virus—the same technology used by public and private hospitals in Hong Kong—which is measured at 99.9% accuracy in its analytical performance in the detection of COVID-19. As part of laboratory protocol, an extra confirmatory test is performed on the same sample for every positive result.

Backed by industry leaders including Prenetics, Prudential Hong Kong, Xcelom, Mason Supreme Healthcare, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), hpa SOCIAL, Beyond Ventures and Pickupp, Project Screen is also approved by WHO and government bodies such as CFDA and CDC. The test costs HK$985, but Prudential is subsidising HK$300 for frontline workers and their family members, who will only pay HK$685.


So, how does it work?

Project Screen’s COVID-19 test uses straightforward sample collection methods that anyone can do at home. From the moment you order the kit online to receiving results, every step is done with minimal human contact to reduce the risk of spreading infection. 

The kit includes alcohol prep pad, deep throat saliva collection kit, Circle specimen bag and your own barcode to activate the kit on their website, where you can also schedule your preferred sample return date. The at-home COVID-19 test requires a deep throat saliva sample to be collected in the morning—when the viral load is at highest rate—on the return date. Your sample will be collected by Pickupp and returned safely to Project Screen’s internationally accredited lab. 

The RT-PRC laboratory test looks for the presence or absence of SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease. The results will be ready to view online and sent digitally to you via email within one business day. Individuals with positive results will be offered a telehealth consult with an independent registered healthcare professional.

Thankfully, we were tested negative for COVID-19. However, it’s important to note that the test will not tell whether you’ve previously been infected or immune, nor does it it rule out the possibility that you may be infected with COVID-19 after the test as the results are only applicable to you at the time of testing. If you are at higher risk professions, it is recommended that you take the test frequently.