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Coronavirus infection study: Frequently Asked Questions

Please note that this study uses a blood sample collection kit, not a lateral flow device.

Frequently Asked Questions: Coronavirus Infection Study

This section of the website provides you with more detailed information on all aspects of the coronavirus infection study in which you have been invited to participate, including: how to take part; delivery of your blood sampling kit; details of the blood sample collection process; how to package and return your sample to the laboratory for analysis; and receiving your result from UK Biobank.

Please click on the arrow next to each question to reveal the relevant answer.

“Why was my UK Biobank self-test result (using the lateral flow device) positive but this test result is negative?”

We expect that around 90% of participants will receive a negative test result from this blood sample after having tested positive using the lateral flow device in the self-test antibody study. This is because the two studies have different purposes. The self-test study assessed whether you have antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which might have resulted from either infection or vaccination) whereas this study ONLY assesses whether you have antibodies specific to infection (which we would expect to apply to about 10% of our participants). In other words, the lateral flow test used in the self-test study and the laboratory-based test used in this study test for different things.

When a person is infected with SARS-CoV-2, several antibodies are produced in response to the virus, including nucleocapsid and spike protein. The vaccines currently approved for use in the UK only trigger antibodies against spike protein, and not the nucleocapsid protein.

This study uses a blood test that detects antibodies to the nucleocapsid protein, which are only produced by infection. A positive test result indicates that you have previously been infected whereas a negative test indicates that you have not been infected. The laboratory test does not detect antibodies resulting from your vaccination.

Professor Naomi Allen, Chief Scientist at UK Biobank, explaining why some participants will get a negative result from this blood test after getting a positive result from the self-test lateral flow device antibody test.

Does a negative test result mean that my COVID-19 vaccination has not worked?

No. Vaccines teach your immune system how to create antibodies, but these are different to the antibodies to infection that are detected by this test.

When a person is infected with SARS-CoV-2, several antibodies are produced in response to the virus, including nucleocapsid and spike protein. The vaccines currently approved for use in the UK only trigger antibodies against spike protein, and not the nucleocapsid protein.

This study uses a blood test that detects antibodies to the nucleocapsid protein, which are only produced by infection. A positive test result indicates that you have previously been infected whereas a negative test indicates that you have not been infected. The laboratory test does not detect antibodies resulting from your vaccination.

Common questions

Can you send me a replacement if part of my kit is missing or damaged on arrival or does not work?

Yes. Before you do this, please ensure that you have checked your kit carefully against the list of kit components given in the instructions provided. If any items are missing from the kit and you are unable to collect your sample, please log in to the UK Biobank participant website and click on “Request new kit” to request a replacement and provide us with details of the problem.

I have used all three lancets but have not filled the tube all the way. What should I do?

If you have managed to get blood into the tube up to the line marked 400mL, please mail your sample to the laboratory. However, if you have not been able to collect that much blood, please dispose of the sample and equipment safely as per the instructions then request a replacement kit by logging into the UK Biobank participant website and clicking on “Request new kit”.

When will I receive my result?

You will receive the result of your test from UK Biobank via email within 2 weeks of returning your sample. If you have not had your result within 14 days of posting it back to the lab, please contact our PRC on 0800 0 276 276.

General

This research study builds on the recent UK Biobank study which identified which UK Biobank participants had antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. This follow-up study aims to determine whether the antibodies detected in those study participants resulted from infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (rather than vaccination).

  1. If you agree to take part, you will be sent a blood sample collection kit through the post. The kit is small enough to fit through the letterbox.
  2. When you receive the kit, do not dispose of the box – it is required to send your sample to the laboratory. Please open the kit and read all the instructions (on both sides of the sheet) carefully. A short video showing you what is in the kit and how to use it can be found here. You will find it helpful to watch the video before you start.
  3. You will need to puncture your finger with the finger-prick device (called a lancet) which is provided, and then collect about 10 drops of blood (which is about 0.5ml or 1/10th of a teaspoon) in the small tube provided, ideally at least up to the line marked 400µl.
  4. When you have collected the sample, please complete the return form, label the tube and return it with any used and unused lancets in the pre-paid envelope provided in the kit. Please post in a post box, not over the counter at a post office.
  5. The sample is returned to the kit manufacturer’s appointed laboratory, where they will test your blood and send the result to UK Biobank.
  6. UK Biobank will send you your results via email.
  7. The results will confirm whether you have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 as a result of an infection or not. The results are not diagnostic; they are for research purposes only.

Taking part

No, participation in this study is entirely voluntary. However, every person that takes part will help us to collect vital information for COVID-19 research.

We would be grateful if you could let us know by logging into the UK Biobank participant website using your personal details and Participant ID (PID) (which can be found on your invitation email) and clicking on the "Join study" button on the participant homepage. On this consent page, you can also tell us that you do not wish to take part in the study. 

Yes. This study has different aims and objectives to the monthly serology study and we would like as many people to participate in this study as possible.

Yes. Taking part in another study will not affect your ability to take part in UK Biobank’s coronavirus infection study.

If you have been unblinded (i.e. you know whether you received the vaccine or a placebo), you can take part. If you do not know this, please wait until you have been unblinded before you consent to participate. 

Yes. This antibody test will tell you if it is likely that you have had SARS-CoV-2 infection in the past 6 months or so. Vaccines teach your immune system how to create antibodies, but the antibodies produced in response to the COVID-19 vaccines are different to the antibodies produced when you have been infected. This antibody test ONLY checks whether you have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Yes. It is fine to provide your sample if you have COVID-19 but do not feel under pressure to provide your sample if you feel too unwell to do it. Please provide it at your earliest convenience.

We advise that people with certain conditions do not take a blood sample. These are:

  • participants with untreated clotting or bleeding disorders
  • participants who have had a recent mastectomy and there is swelling of the arm
  • participants who are on renal dialysis
  • participants who are HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C positive.

Yes, in general. We want to include as many UK Biobank participants as possible. The blood sample collection is not suitable for use by anyone who has an untreated blood coagulation disorder. However, the amount of blood that needs to be collected is small (about 10 drops or 1/10th of a teaspoon), so if you are taking anti-coagulant medication the collection procedure provides no greater risk than other similar finger-prick tests.

The blood sample collection is not suitable for use by anyone who has an untreated blood coagulation disorder. However, the amount of blood that needs to be collected is small (about 10 drops or 1/10th of a teaspoon), so if you are taking anti-coagulant medication the collection procedure provides no greater risk than other similar finger-prick tests.

Yes.

The study is only open to UK Biobank participants who took part in our recent coronavirus antibody self-test study and returned results indicating that they had antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and told us that they had also received a COVID-19 vaccine.

If you register to take part and receive a kit to take a blood sample, this must not be completed by anyone else. If you do not want to provide a blood sample after receiving the kit, please dispose of it safely and do not pass it on to anyone else.

To dispose of the kit without having used it, please:

  • Press and click any unused finger-prick devices (called lancets).
  • Place all of the test kit items into the specimen transport bag supplied.
  • Put all the kit contents back into the box and then into the mailing bag.
  • Dispose of the kit with your regular household waste.
  • Keep out of reach of children and pets.

For the study findings to be useful, it is important that the blood sample is only provided by the UK Biobank participant to whom the kit was sent so that we can incorporate the results with the existing data that we hold on them for research purposes.

Invitations for this research are being sent to UK Biobank participants who took part in our recent SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus antibody self-test study and returned results indicating that they had antibodies to the coronavirus and told us they had received a COVID-19 vaccine.

If your spouse/partner is eligible for this study, they should wait to receive an invitation from us or can check the UK Biobank participant website to see if we are ready for them to take part.

If more than one person in your household has agreed to take part, please make sure that you use the kit that is addressed to you. No personal details are sent to the testing laboratory so the only way we can match your sample to you when we receive the results is via the ID QR code on the sample tube label.

If you send back a sample using someone else’s label then they will get your result. So, if your kit contents have become mixed up with those of another participant (such as your spouse), please call our Participant Resource Centre on 0800 0276 276 for help.

No. In order for the information we gather during this study to be useful to researchers, it is important that everyone involved uses the blood sampling kit that we send them.

Please log in to the UK Biobank participant website. Your contact details can be checked and updated by clicking on the “Contact Details” button on the participant homepage.

To consent to provide a blood sample for this project, please click on the “Join study” button on the participant homepage. If you have any problems registering to take part, please call our Participant Resource Centre on 0800 0 276 276 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).

If you have registered correctly, you should receive an acknowledgement email within one working day. Please check your junk/spam folder as well as your inbox.

If you change your mind before receiving our email notifying you that your kit is on its way, please call our Participant Resource Centre on 0800 027 6 276.

If your kit has already been despatched or you have already received your kit, please dispose of it in your general waste following the instructions in the kit. Ignore any reminders to return your blood sample that you may receive.

The coronavirus antibody test

The Thriva Coronavirus Antibody Test is a laboratory-based assay that checks for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies in capillary blood. The test requires a blood sample obtained using a finger-prick sampling kit.

When a person is infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, their body makes antibodies in response to several viral proteins, including nucleocapsid (N) and spike (S) protein. The vaccines currently approved for use in the UK only trigger antibodies against spike (S) protein.

The lateral flow devices (LFDs) that we used in the self-test antibody study detected antibodies to the spike protein so we were unable to tell if the antibodies were due to infection or to the vaccine (which is why you have been asked to provide a blood sample).

The laboratory test being used in this follow-up study detects antibodies to the nucleocapsid protein which are only produced following infection, so a positive test result will tell us that you have previously been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The kits were donated to UK Biobank by the Department of Health and Social Care.

Yes. UK Biobank will email you the result of your test within two weeks of the laboratory receiving your blood sample.

As with all antibody tests, the results are not 100% accurate and should not be used to guide your behaviour. It is important that you continue to follow the current government COVID-19 legislation and guidance.

The Roche laboratory test being used has been validated on finger-prick blood samples. It has a 99.5% sensitivity (gives a positive result correctly 99.5% of the time when there are antibodies present) and 99.8% specificity (gives a negative result correctly 99.8% of the time).

This test can be used to tell you if you have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the past, but it cannot tell you if you currently have COVID-19 or if you can infect others. Nor does it indicate whether you are protected against the coronavirus. Please do not use the test result to guide your behaviour; it is important that you continue to follow the current government legislation and guidance.

There will be no monetary benefit as a result of taking part in this study, but your participation will help scientists worldwide to perform research into COVID-19.

You will receive information about whether you have antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus as a result of an infection, which may be of interest to you.

However, as with all antibody tests, the results are not 100% accurate and should not be used to guide your behaviour; it is important that you continue to follow the current government legislation and guidance.

Delivery of my test kit

It may take us a few weeks to send you a kit so we will email you before it is despatched to let you know when to expect it. If you have not received your kit within 14 days of your email notification, you can request another by logging into the UK Biobank participant website and clicking on “Request new kit”.

Your test kit will be delivered to your home by Royal Mail.

Please log into the UK Biobank participant website and click on the “Contact Details” button to update your details. Alternatively, you can call our Participant Resource Centre on 0800 0 276 276 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).

The kit should ideally be delivered to a secure letter/parcel box where possible. Unfortunately, we are unable to take specific delivery instructions.

Yes. The kits are designed to fit through a standard letterbox, and do not require a signature on delivery.

We will be sending kits through June and July. If you will be away for a short period during this time, there is no need for us to send the kit elsewhere; simply provide the blood sample as soon as possible on your return. You do not need to tell us about this.

If you will be away for the whole of this period, please log in to the UK Biobank participant website and provide us with an alternative UK postal address prior to consenting to participate. If your kit has already been despatched to your home address, please provide an address to which your kit should be sent and click on “Request new kit” to request a replacement kit be sent to this temporary address. Please remember to update your postal address when you return home.

Unfortunately, we do not deliver test kits to addresses outside of the UK because the sample would not get back to the laboratory sufficiently quickly.  

No, but if you are unable to take your blood sample when the kit arrives, please do so at your earliest convenience.

Obtaining my blood sample

Please collect the blood sample and post it to the laboratory on the same day. You can take the blood sample at any time of the day.

However, do not collect or post your sample on a Saturday as it might be in the post for too long. Any other day is fine, although we recommend Monday-Wednesday to reduce the effect of postal delays (reducing the chance of a void test result).

Yes. We will no longer be able to process samples received at the laboratory after xxxxx. To allow the laboratory to process samples efficiently, we would be grateful if you would collect the sample and return it as soon as you can. We may send you a reminder if you have not returned your sample within 4-6 weeks of receiving your test kit.

We recommend using your kit as soon as possible. If you are not ready to use it when it arrives, please store it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. We recommend leaving your kit somewhere in view, so that you remember to do it.

No. The test can only be used by the person it is addressed to. If you are nervous of needles, please do not worry as you will not see any during the collection process. You could ask someone to help you take the sample. If you decide that you do not wish to take the sample, please dispose of the kit safely as detailed in the instructions.

No. Unlike some blood tests, you do not need to fast and you can do this test at any time of day.

Yes. Being hydrated is the best thing you can do to prepare for the test and to make it easy for you to collect your sample.  Please aim to drink a minimum of 6 to 8 glasses of water the day before, and at least 2 glasses 30 minutes before your test.

Please give yourself about 30 minutes to prepare, set up, and collect your sample – especially if this is the first time you have performed a similar procedure.

To make the process of collecting your blood sample as straightforward as possible, please follow these steps:

  • Drink a lot of water (6 to 8 glasses) the day before you collect your sample, and at least 2 glasses 30 minutes before you collect your sample.
  • Set aside enough time: you will need about 30 minutes to prepare, get set up and collect your sample, especially if this is your first time.
  • Double check that the kit is addressed to you (and not another member of your household).
  • Open the kit and read all of the instructions (on both sides of the sheet) carefully.
  • Watch the short video (available here) showing you what is in the kit and how to use it before you start.
  • Lay out all of the contents of the kit on a table or surface to check that nothing is missing then set up the equipment as per the instructions. Please make sure you take the lid off the blood collection tube before you start.
  • Do some light exercise (e.g. swing your arms and clench your fist) for a minute – if safe for you to do so – to help get your blood moving.
  • Wash your hands with soap (this can be liquid or bar soap) for 20 seconds and dry them with a clean towel.
  • Put the hand from which you plan to collect the blood sample in a bowl of warm water (such as bath water temperature) for 2 minutes.
  • Stand up for the whole process, keeping your hand lower than your elbow to keep the blood flowing (but be prepared to be able to sit down if you feel faint).

Please refer to the kit instructions for full details of how to obtain the blood sample. Someone else in your household may also be able to help if you are having trouble. If you require any guidance on obtaining the blood sample, it may help to watch this video which shows the collection process.

No. Unless you are assisting another participant to obtain the blood sample, no personal protective equipment is necessary. We are unable to supply PPE.

Yes, please visit the study webpage on how to take a sample where you will find a copy of the instructions and a video showing how to obtain your blood sample.

Yes. Before you do this, please ensure that you have checked your kit carefully against the list of kit components given in the instructions provided. If any items are missing from the kit and you are unable to collect your sample, please log in to the UK Biobank participant website and click on “Request new kit” to request a replacement and provide us with details of the problem.

Yes. If you need a new kit, please log in to the UK Biobank participant website and click on “Request new kit” to request a replacement kit and provide us with details of the problem.

If there is a problem with your kit that prevents you from taking the blood sample, a replacement kit can be requested by logging in to the UK Biobank participant website and clicking on “Request new kit”. You can also provide us with details about the problems that you encountered with your kit.

If you had an adverse reaction, were harmed as a result of taking the sample, or had any other problems that did not require you to request a new kit, please contact our Participant Resource Centre on 0800 0 276 276.

If you injure yourself while taking your blood sample, please call 111 for non-emergency medical advice or 999 for an emergency.

To get your blood pumping, you can first try to do some movements, such as swinging your arms, clenching and releasing your hand, star jumps, skipping on the spot or whatever you feel able to do for a minute. Please ignore this step if it is not safe for you to do such activities.

You can then put the whole of your hand from which you intend to collect the blood sample in a bowl of warm water (such as bath water temperature) for 2 minutes to encourage blood flow prior to starting the blood collection process.

Please stand up for the whole process (unless you feel faint). While trying to obtain the sample, your hand should be below your heart and lower than your elbow at all times to help the blood flow more easily. Standing at a low table can make it easier to angle the blood into the tube.

Please do not attempt to prick your finger with anything other than the lancet device provided.

We do not recommend collecting blood from any other part of your body.  Please read the instructions carefully to maximise the chance of taking blood successfully from a finger prick.

Please do not attempt to prick your finger with anything other than the lancet device provided.

When using the lancet, you will feel a small sharp pricking feeling. As the lancet is retractable, no needle will be visible at any point. For further guidance on how to collect the blood sample, please watch the instruction video here.

If you are nervous of needles, please be reassured that you will not see any needle before or after using the lancet. However, if you do not like the idea of doing it yourself, you can always ask a family member or friend to collect the blood sample from your finger.

Please do not attempt to prick your finger with anything other than the lancet device provided.

The test involves using a lancet to prick the tip of your finger to collect about 10 drops of blood for testing (about 1/10th of a teaspoon). Ideally, the laboratory requires the tube to be filled at least to the line marked 400mL, but it is even better if you are able to fill it to the 600mL line.

If you are struggling to obtain enough blood and it is taking you more than two minutes to fill a tube, it is better to start the process of warming your hand and doing some movement again from the beginning. You could also try using a new lancet on a different finger.

If you have used all of the lancets provided and you are still not able to obtain the minimum amount of blood, please do not return this kit. Instead, please request a replacement kit by logging into the UK Biobank participant website and clicking on “Request new kit”.

If you have managed to get blood into the tube up to the line marked 400mL, please mail your sample to the laboratory. However, if you have not been able to collect that much blood, please dispose of the sample and equipment safely as per the instructions then request a replacement kit by logging into the UK Biobank participant website and clicking on “Request new kit”.

If you have used all of the lancets provided and have not been able to collect any blood, do not worry. Please do not return your kit. Instead, dispose of it safely as per the instructions then log into the UK Biobank participant website and click on “Request new kit” to receive a new kit if you would like to try again.

No. Once you have begun to collect your sample, you need to complete the process.

Each tube contains a gel which stabilises your blood sample for up to a week. Do not worry if the blood solidifies once you have placed it into the tube and turned it upside down to mix it; this is supposed to happen.

No. If you wash the tube out, you will interfere with the gel in the tube which stabilises the blood sample while it is in the mail. Once you have begun to collect your sample, you must complete the process. If you do not, you may prevent the laboratory test from working.

To send back your sample, ideally the tube should contain at least 400mL of blood. If you still have some unused lancets left, you can continue to collect the rest of your sample by pricking another finger if your blood has stopped flowing from the original site. Provided you have collected enough blood to fill the tube to the 400mL line, the sample can be returned.

If you have lost all the blood and cannot collect any more then please dispose of the sample and equipment safely as per the instructions. If you would like to try again, please log into the UK Biobank participant website and click on “Request new kit” to request a replacement kit and provide us with details of the problem.

Please follow the instructions in your kit and send the lancets back with your sample.

No – you should only use the equipment provided in your kit.

No – all of the lancets are the same and are suitable for collecting a fingertip blood sample. Please refer to the instructions and online video for details about how to use the lancets.

In the unlikely event that you injure yourself or feel unwell, please seek medical attention. Use the NHS 111 online service or call NHS 111. For a medical emergency, dial 999.

If you had an adverse reaction or were harmed as a result of taking the sample, or had any other problems that did not require you to request a new kit via our participant website, please let us know by contacting our Participant Resource Centre on 0800 0 276 276.

It is common for the fingertip blood test site to become red or bruised and a little sore for a few days. If this continues for more than 10 days, we would recommend that you contact your GP. Please also notify our Participant Resource Centre of your concerns on 0800 0 276 276.

Yes. Please log in to the UK Biobank participant website  and click on “Request new kit” to request a replacement kit and provide us with details of the problem.

Returning my sample

Please complete the following steps before posting your sample:

  1. Mix the tube by tuning it upside down at least 10 times.
  2. Peel the remaining small tube label with the colourful border from the return form and wrap it around your tube. Make sure the printed QR code is clearly visible.
  3. Follow the instructions sheet on putting the tube and your used and unused lancets into the clear plastic bag.
  4. Write the date and time that you took your sample on the return form (do not write anything else on this form).
  5. Put the completed return form and plastic bag (containing your tube and lancets) into the box that your kit arrived in and close it.
  6. Put the box into the pre-paid mailing envelope and then mail it as soon as possible.

If you do not do all of the above, you may not get a test result.

If there is no return form, you will be unable to send your kit back and you should dispose of the kit safely as per the instructions. Please request a replacement kit by logging into the UK Biobank participant website and clicking “Request new kit”.

There is space for three stickers on the return form. Two have already been used as your kit was being assembled. The sticker you need to use is in the colourful border and has a mini QR code on it. It has “SAMPLE LABEL ID” written underneath it, and “Peel off the tube label and wrap around tube” written above it.

Please make sure you have labelled your tube and put it, together with your used and unused lancets, into the specimen bag. Then place these and your completed return form into the box your kit arrived in. This should then be put into the pre-paid envelope.

Post your sample back to the laboratory on the same day that you took it. Although you can collect the sample on any day (apart from Saturday), we recommend taking and posting it on Monday to Wednesday.

Using a Royal Mail priority postbox will further limit postal delays – these have NHS logos on them and you can find your nearest one here. These post boxes are collected from most frequently but if you do not live near a priority post box, please use a regular one.

Please do not take your sample to a post office to post it over the counter as they are not able to accept COVID-19 related packages.

Do not collect your sample on a day when the outside temperature is above 25oC.

You should post your sample back on the same day that you took it. If you are unable to do this, please store the sample at room temperature and put it in the post the very next day. It is best to post your sample back on a weekday – ideally Monday to Wednesday - to avoid delays in the mail over the weekend. Please post it back in a post box, not over the counter at a post office as they are not able to accept COVID-19 related packages.

It is best that the sample not be exposed to extreme temperatures. We recommend that you keep your sample in your house overnight and then post it the next morning. Please do not put your sample in the fridge – store it in a cool, dry place.

Please post it back in a post box, not over the counter at a post office as they are not able to accept COVID-19 related packages.

No. It is important that you do not mix the components of your sampling kits and that you do not confuse your return form with others within your household. If you do, the laboratory will not be able to identify your sample correctly.

If you have sent your sample back, you will have to wait in order to find out if your sample was viable for testing. If you receive a void result, you will automatically be sent a replacement kit so that you can submit another sample for analysis if you would like to do so.

  • All lancets (used and unused) should be posted back to the laboratory along with your blood sample, in the plastic bag and cardboard box provided.
  • Dispose of all other kit items with your regular household waste.
  • Keep out of reach of children and pets.

In this study, Thriva Limited are responsible for kit distribution and antibody testing. 

Pura Diagnostics and Eurofins County Pathology are Thriva’s appointed laboratories responsible for testing all of their samples. These laboratories do not receive any information about who the samples belong to, either from Thriva or from UK Biobank. It is important that you do not include your name or contact details on your return form when you send your sample to the laboratory.

The test result

You will receive the result of your test from UK Biobank via email within 2 weeks of returning your sample. If you have not had your result within 14 days of posting it back to the lab, please contact our PRC on 0800 0 276 276.

There are three potential test outcomes:

  1. POSITIVE
  2. NEGATIVE
  3. FAILED TEST (VOID)

A POSITIVE result indicates that you have antibodies indicating that you have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the past 6 months (or perhaps earlier).

A NEGATIVE result indicates that you are unlikely to have been infected (at least in the past 6 months) as you do not have antibodies from coronavirus infection.

The test carried out only detects antibodies resulting from an infection. It does not detect antibodies resulting from your vaccination.

A FAILED (VOID) result can happen for a number of reasons, such as:

  • there was not enough blood in the tube to test;
  • the test kit did not arrive at the laboratory soon enough; or
  • the laboratory was unable to confirm a positive or negative result.

If you receive a void result, you will automatically be sent a replacement kit so that you can submit another sample for analysis if you are willing to do so. Please note that if you also receive a void result for your second sample, we will not be able to send you a further replacement blood sampling kit.

Whatever your test result, you should continue to follow current government legislation and guidance to protect yourself and others from coronavirus.

We expect that around 90% of participants will receive a negative test result from this blood sample after having tested positive using the lateral flow device in the self-test antibody study. This is because the two studies have different purposes. The self-test study assessed whether you have antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which might have resulted from either infection or vaccination) whereas this study ONLY assesses whether you have antibodies specific to infection (which we would expect to apply to about 10% of our participants). In other words, the lateral flow test used in the self-test study and the laboratory-based test used in this study test for different things.

When a person is infected with SARS-CoV-2, several antibodies are produced in response to the virus, including nucleocapsid and spike protein. The vaccines currently approved for use in the UK only trigger antibodies against spike protein, and not the nucleocapsid protein.

This study uses a blood test that detects antibodies to the nucleocapsid protein, which are only produced by infection. A positive test result indicates that you have previously been infected whereas a negative test indicates that you have not been infected. The laboratory test does not detect antibodies resulting from your vaccination.

No. Vaccines teach your immune system how to create antibodies, but these are different to the antibodies to infection that are detected by this test.

When a person is infected with SARS-CoV-2, several antibodies are produced in response to the virus, including nucleocapsid and spike protein. The vaccines currently approved for use in the UK only trigger antibodies against spike protein, and not the nucleocapsid protein.

This study uses a blood test that detects antibodies to the nucleocapsid protein, which are only produced by infection. A positive test result indicates that you have previously been infected whereas a negative test indicates that you have not been infected. The laboratory test does not detect antibodies resulting from your vaccination.

When a person is infected with SARS-CoV-2, several antibodies are produced in response to the virus, including nucleocapsid and spike protein. The vaccines currently approved for use in the UK only trigger antibodies against spike protein, and not the nucleocapsid protein.

This study uses a blood test that detects antibodies to the nucleocapsid protein, which are only produced by infection. A positive test result indicates that you have previously been infected whereas a negative test indicates that you have not been infected. The laboratory test does not detect antibodies resulting from your vaccination.

A positive test result does not mean that you are immune to developing COVID-19 in the future. Therefore, whatever your test result, you should continue to follow current government legislation and guidelines. If you have received a single dose of your COVID-19 vaccine and obtain a ‘positive’ result on this antibody test, it is still very important to obtain the second dose of your vaccine.

The result of this test does not tell you anything about infectivity (i.e. whether you have the active infection and can transmit it to others). It only tells you whether you have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 previously. You should continue to follow the current government guidance regarding social distancing and self-isolation, regardless of the result of this test.

Yes, you must continue to follow current government guidance on social distancing

No. However, if you have symptoms that suggest you may have COVID-19, you and your household must follow self-isolation guidelines.

If your test result is negative, this means the result indicates that you are unlikely to have been infected (at least in the past 6 months) as you do not have antibodies from coronavirus infection. You should continue to follow current government legislation and guidance.

If you have previously tested positive for COVID-19, it is possible either that the antibody levels were too low to be detected by this test (perhaps because your infection was several months previously) or that the previous test provided a false positive result.

This antibody test has been shown to be highly accurate. If your result is negative but you think you have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, it is possible that your body did not make any antibodies or that it was too long ago for the antibodies to still be present.

Access to my information

The way in which UK Biobank collects, shares and uses your information is explained on our website.  This includes an explanation of the way in which we protect your data and remove any personal identifiers before making any data available to researchers.  For the purposes of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection follow-up study, we have appointed Thriva Limited as a third party data processor. At the end of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection follow-up study, Thriva will delete any personal data that they have processed about you. 

In accordance with the Health Protection (Notifications) Regulations 2010, SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus antibody test results are required to be notified to Public Health England[1] (PHE). This enables greater understanding of the spread of the virus, and the impact vaccines are having on the ongoing pandemic, which will support future public health decisions. For more information, click here.

In order for UK Biobank to notify PHE of your antibody result, personal details including name, NHS number, gender, date of birth, postcode, and the result of your antibody test will be transferred to PHE at the end of the study. You do not need to do anything and this will have no direct implications for you; you should continue to follow government guidelines and advice.

Your test result and related information will be kept by UK Biobank for many years. They will be provided in a de-identified form (such that no participant can be identified from their data or test result) to approved researchers for medical and other health-related research (including scientists working in other countries and in commercial companies).

We keep any information that might identify you (such as your name and address) separately from other information about you in our database.

[1] PHE is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). It fulfils the Secretary of State’s statutory duties to protect health and address health inequalities and executes the Secretary of State’s power to promote the health and wellbeing of the nation.

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