NHS Asymptomatic Staff Testing Pilot Guide

Download the COVID-19 Symptom Study App and record your health and tests daily for the 21-day pilot period.

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Instructions for NHS staff taking part in the Asymptomatic Pilot

Recent studies have shown that salivary glands are the first tissue that coronaviruses infect. This means saliva viral loads tend to be higher than those in oropharyngeal and nasopharyngeal swabs prior to symptoms and early in the infection cycle making it a powerful method of testing individuals who may be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic. We are exploring the feasibility of implementing a saliva testing service for asymptomatic NHS staff. Thank you for taking part in this pilot.

Before taking part in this pilot you must ensure you have no planned leave of more than 3 days, or if you do you are willing to come into work to drop your samples off every 4 days.

Unfortunately, you will not be eligible to participate if you have received:

You will be required to download and register with the COVID Symptom Study App https://covid.joinzoe.com. Please use this app to record the test samples you have taken, results of tests and your health on a daily basis.

In addition to providing a daily saliva sample for 21 days, you will be asked to provide a blood sample, to test for antibodies, either on enrolment or on Day 1 of your saliva sampling. You will also be asked to also submit a swab test on Days 1 (or at enrolment), 7, 14 and 21.

  1. You have been provided with 21 [site specific FluidX tubes (B’ham) or ISS tubes and plastics spoons Southampton and Basingstoke] to collect your saliva sample. You will use one tube each day for 21 days.
  2. The saliva sample must be taken on waking (usually first thing in the morning) and prior to having anything to eat or drink and before brushing your teeth and / or using mouthwash.
  3. If you forget to take a saliva sample on waking you may collect this pre-lunch (or equivalent meal on a night shift) but need to ensure that no food/drink are consumed, nor mouthwash/toothpaste used for at least 1 hour prior to collection.
  4. The sample must be 2ml, that approximately enough to half fill a 5ml spoon; and you can use a clean detergent free teaspoon to collect the saliva before pouring it into the container.
  5. Once you have taken your sample, seal the pot and attach your uniquely identified [site specific barcoded] label and record the date and time that the sample was taken on the second label.
  6. If you are unable to drop the sample to the collection site on the same day, please refrigerate your sample and ensure that you have ticked the box to indicate that you have done so.
  7. You will be informed by [site specific] if your swab or saliva test is positive, however you will not receive an antibody result.
  8. If you become symptomatic or are returned a positive result (swab or saliva) then you will no longer be required to submit samples.
  9. You may be asked to have a nurse-directed swab should the results from your saliva test and your swab not match i.e. one indicates positive and the other negative.


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