COVID-19 Lateral Flow Antibody Tests FAQs

Frequently-asked questions about your COVID-19 lateral flow antibody testing kit.

1.      Information

2.      The Melody Study

3.      COVID-19 Lateral Flow antibody tests
What is a lateral flow antibody test?
Can I save the test and take it at a later date?
What are the possible risks or side-effects of doing the lateral flow antibody test? ?
I don’t want to take part, can I opt out?
Why have I been asked to take another antibody test?
Why has my teenage child been invited to take part in this study?
I don’t want to take part, what should I do with the kit?
I received a test kit, but this person does not live at this address. What do I do?

4.      Using the test kit
I’ve received the test kit. What do I do with it?
I am having trouble doing the test, can you help?
I haven’t got an instruction booklet. What should I do?
Can someone help me take the test?
Can someone else take the test instead of me?
How do I dispose of the test kit?
I did the test wrong. Can you send me another test?
Can I reuse the test?
Can you send me another test at a later date?
I’ve injured myself or feel unwell – what should I do?

5.      Reading your test results
How do I get the results of my test?
How do I read the test result?
The testing stick result is faint. Does that affect the result?
How accurate is the test?
Is there a cut-off date for taking the test?

6.      IgM Positive test result
My test result is IgM positive, what does this mean?
My test result is IgM positive, am I immune to COVID-19?
My test result is IgM positive, am I infectious?
My test result is IgM positive, can I break social distancing rules?
My test result is IgM positive, do I have to self-isolate?

7.      IgG Positive test result
My test result is IgG positive, what does this mean?
My test result is IgG positive, am I immune to COVID-19?
My test result is IgG positive, am I infectious?
My test result is IgG positive, can I break social distancing rules?
My test result is IgG positive, do I have to self-isolate?
I’ve tested positive for IgG after having a COVID-19 vaccine, does this mean it’s worked and I’m protected from the virus?

8.      Negative test result
My test result is negative, what does this mean?
My test result is negative, am I immune to COVID-19?
My test result is negative, am I infectious?
My test result is negative, do I have to self-isolate?
I’ve tested negative for IgG after having a Covid-19 vaccine, does this mean it hasn’t worked and I could still get COVID-19?

9.      Invalid test result
My test result is invalid, what does this mean?

10.      The online survey
How do I complete the online survey?
Can I complete the online survey if I have not done the test?
Why do I need to take a photograph of my test result, and how should I send this to you?
Does this survey use Cookies or similar code?
Additional contact details

1. Information

  1. If you need government advice on coronavirus, please refer to the government website: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
  2. If you need medical advice on coronavirus, please refer to the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
  3. If you have any questions which are not answered in the FAQs, please contact the FREEPHONE helpline by calling 0800 819 9150 or emailing [email protected]

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2. The Melody Study

If you would like further information about the MELODY study, including the background to the research, who is running it, ethical and legal aspects or who can take part please refer to the Participant Information Sheet at https://melodystudy.org/

This includes our full Privacy Policy, setting out your rights and covering accessing, amending and deleting your data.

3. COVID-19 Lateral Flow antibody tests

What is a lateral flow antibody test?

A lateral flow antibody test looks like a COVID test kit but works differently, it involves pricking the tip of your finger to get a blood spot for testing. The test should be self-administered and takes only a few minutes to complete. This will test for an antibody that reacts with the virus that causes COVID-19.  It may cause some mild short-lived discomfort. You will be able to see the outcome of the lateral flow test within 10 to 15 minutes.

We will provide full instructions with the kit and you can watch a video on how to take the test which can be found at the bottom of the first page of the test here: www.melodystudy.org/antibodytest. There is no obligation to take the test if you agree to be sent it.

The results are not 100% accurate and should not be used to guide your behaviour. A positive test does not necessarily mean that you are fully protected from getting COVID-19 or passing on the virus, and a negative test does not necessarily mean you do not have antibodies that may provide protection against COVID-19. Therefore, whatever your test result, we ask that you follow government advice and continue with whatever precautions you were using prior to the test.

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Can I save the test and take it at a later date?

Please complete the test and survey as soon as possible once you have received the test.

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What are the possible risks or side-effects of doing the lateral flow antibody test?

Collecting the blood sample for the self-test requires a finger prick which can feel like a little pinch, which may cause some people a small amount of discomfort. For those patients on blood-thinning medication, we also ask that the cotton wool swab supplied is used to press on the area of the finger prick test, until bleeding is stopped.

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I don’t want to take part, can I opt out?

Yes. Please telephone our FREEPHONE helpline on 0800 819 9150 or email [email protected]. When you contact us please provide your address or the eight-character access code on your letter.If you have registered as a transplant patient and do not have an access code, please provide us with your name and address, Ipsos MORI will remove you from our survey database in the limited time we hold your information.

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Why have I been asked to take another antibody test?

If you have already taken part in the MELODY study and have completed an antibody test, we thank you for your time. Some people who have taken part and have received a further COVID-19 vaccine dose are invited to complete a second antibody test. This will help scientists and the Government understand the effectiveness of this part of the vaccination programme.

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Why has my teenage child been invited to take part in this study?

This is an antibody research study. Antibodies are made by the immune system to fight infection. In this study, we aim to:

  1. Assess how many immunocompromised people have detectable antibodies against COVID-19. Antibodies will be tested using a finger prick testing kit we send to your home.
  2. Investigate whether lack of detectable antibodies are associated with risk of infection over a 6-month period.
  3. Investigate what factors are associated with lack of detectable antibodies in immunocompromised people, e.g. the type of immunosuppressant medication they receive. This will be determined by asking participants to complete an online questionnaire with your antibody results.

The study aims to recruit people who have received solid organ transplants, people with rare autoimmune diseases receiving immunosuppression and people who have had a diagnosis of blood cancer. As part of this study, we would like to include young people who are transplant recipients.

For further information, please visit https://www.melodystudy.org/reg-yp.

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I don’t want to take part, what should I do with the kit?

If you have received your test kit but you do not want to take part, please dispose of the test kit securely – do not pass it to anyone else.

To safely dispose of the test kit, please:

  • Place the testing stick back into its foil wrapper
  • Place all of the test kit items into the plastic case they came in.
  • Dispose of the kit with your regular household waste.
  • Keep out of reach of children and pets.

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I received a test kit, but this person does not live at this address. What do I do?

If you have received a test kit which is not addressed to you or someone in your household, please do not take the test but dispose of the test securely.

To safely dispose of the test kit, please:

  • Place the testing stick back into its foil wrapper.
  • Place all of the test kit items into the plastic case they came in.
  • Dispose of the kit with your regular household waste.
  • Keep out of reach of children and pets.

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4. Using the test kit

I’ve received the test kit. What do I do with it?

We are asking you to administer a lateral flow antibody test which involves pricking the tip of your finger to get a blood spot for testing. This test is self-administered at home. There should be an instruction booklet included in the envelope with the test which we ask you to read carefully. You can also watch a video on how to administer the test. Please see the link to the video at the bottom on the first page of the test survey here: www.melodystudy.org/antibodytest.  The test can be self-administered and takes only a few minutes to complete. It may cause short-term discomfort.

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I am having trouble doing the test, can you help?

Please refer to the instructions that accompanied the test kit for full details about how to do the test. Someone else in your household may also be able to help if you are having trouble. If you require any further information about doing the test, please contact our FREEPHONE helpline on 0800 819 9150 or email [email protected]. When you contact us please provide your address or the eight-character access code on your letter if you have one. If you are a transplant patient; it would be helpful if you could provide us with your 10 digit NHS number. You can find your NHS number on any letter or prescription from the NHS.

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I haven’t got an instruction booklet. What should I do?

If you haven’t got an instruction booklet, please contact our FREEPHONE helpline on 0800 819 9150 or email [email protected].  When you contact us, please provide your address or the eight-character access code on your letter. A replacement booklet will be posted to you. This can be emailed to you if you prefer. Do not do the test until you have received a copy of the instruction booklet.

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Can someone help me take the test?

Yes, you can ask someone to help you. The instructions give full details about how to do this.

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Can someone else take the test instead of me?

No. If you have registered for the test and receive the test in your name this must not be completed by another person in your household or by anyone else you know. If you do not want to complete the test after receiving it, please dispose of it securely and do not pass it on to anyone else.

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How do I dispose of the test kit?

To safely dispose of the test kit, please:

  • Place the testing stick back into its foil wrapper.
  • Place all of the test kit items into the plastic case they came in.
  • Dispose of the kit with your regular household waste.
  • Keep out of reach of children and pets.

For the study findings to be accurate it is important that only those individuals who are sent the tests do them. Please do not pass the test kit to anyone who has not registered.

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I did the test wrong. Can you send me another test?

Unfortunately, we are not able to send you a replacement.

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Can I reuse the test?

No, do not attempt to reuse the test.  It is a single-use disposable device which is not intended for multiple uses. The device will not register a second test and reusing a single use lancet may risk infection. Please dispose of the kit securely and do not reuse it. 

To safely dispose of the test kit, please:

  • Place the testing stick back into its foil wrapper.
  • Place all of the test kit items into the plastic case they came in.
  • Dispose of the kit with your regular household waste.
  • Keep out of reach of children and pets.

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Can you send me another test at a later date?

Unfortunately, as part of this research we are not able to send you a replacement even if you do not think the test has worked.

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I’ve injured myself or feel unwell – what should I do?

In the unlikely event you injure yourself or feel unwell, please seek medical attention.  Use the NHS 111 online service: https://111.nhs.uk/. If you do not have internet access, dial 111.  For a medical emergency dial 999.

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5. Reading your test results

How do I get the results of my test?

Please refer to the instruction booklet you received with your test kit explaining how to read your results. You will be able to see the outcome of the antibody test within 10 to 15 minutes on the testing stick.

Please be aware that the results are not 100% accurate at an individual level. A positive test does not necessarily mean that you are fully protected from getting COVID-19 or passing on the virus, and a negative test does not necessarily mean you do not have antibodies that may provide protection against COVID-19. Therefore, whatever your test result, we ask that you follow government advice and continue with whatever precautions you were using prior to the test.

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How do I read the test result?

Instructions on how to read your test result are in the instruction booklet which was included with your test pack. This has a diagram which shows how to interpret the testing stick results.

Please be aware that the results are not 100% accurate at an individual level. A positive test does not necessarily mean that you are fully protected from getting COVID-19 or passing on the virus, and a negative test does not necessarily mean you do not have antibodies that may provide protection against COVID-19. Therefore, whatever your test result, we ask that you follow government advice and continue with whatever precautions you were using prior to the test.

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The testing stick result is faint. Does that affect the result?

No, if the testing stick result show faint line(s) instead of strong line(s) this does not change the result. Please refer to instruction booklet.

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How accurate is the test?

Antibodies are made by the immune system to fight infection. This test looks for two types of antibodies, IgM (‘M’ line), which are often short-lasting, and IgG (‘G’ line), which are usually longer lasting. By looking for antibodies in blood, we can understand whether someone has had an antibody response to COVID-19, either due to a COVID-19 vaccine or because they have previously been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Please be aware that the results are not 100% accurate at an individual level. A positive test does not necessarily mean that you are fully protected from getting COVID-19 or passing on the virus, and a negative test does not necessarily mean you do not have antibodies that may provide protection against COVID-19. Therefore, whatever your test result, we ask that you follow government advice and continue with whatever precautions you were using prior to the test.

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Is there a cut-off date for taking the test?

Please complete the test and online survey as soon as you can. The study will be open for a limited amount of time.

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6. IgM positive test result

My test result is IgM positive, what does this mean?

This test is not reliable for IgM. Therefore, this result cannot tell you whether or not you have developed antibodies. A positive IgM test should be ignored. You should continue to follow current Government advice. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

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My test result is IgM positive, am I immune to COVID-19?

This test is not reliable for IgM. A positive IgM test should be ignored. Therefore, whatever your test result, we ask that you follow government advice and continue with whatever precautions you were using prior to the test. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

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My test result is IgM positive, am I infectious?

This test is not reliable for IgM. A positive IgM test should be ignored. Therefore, whatever your test result, we ask that you follow government advice and continue with whatever precautions you were using prior to the test. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

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My test result is IgM positive, can I break social distancing rules?

This test is not reliable for IgM. A positive IgM test should be ignored. Therefore, whatever your test result, we ask that you follow government advice and continue with whatever precautions you were using prior to the test. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

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My test result is IgM positive, do I have to self-isolate?

This test is not reliable for IgM. A positive IgM test should be ignored. You and your household must still follow self-isolation guidelines if you have any symptoms. If you do not have symptoms, you and your household must still follow government guidelines. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

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7. IgG positive test result

My test result is IgG positive, what does this mean?

A positive IgG test indicates that you might have had COVID-19 in the past and have developed antibodies against the virus and/or that you have developed antibodies following a COVID-19 vaccine. At the moment, we do not know if having antibodies, either due to having a COVID-19 vaccine or because of previous infection with the virus gives someone long-lasting protection from the virus. Therefore, whatever your test result, we ask that you follow government advice and continue with whatever precautions you were using prior to the test. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

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My test result is IgG positive, am I immune to COVID-19?

No, a positive IgG test result does not mean you are immune. At the moment, we do not know if having antibodies, either due to having a COVID-19 vaccine or because of previous infection with the virus gives someone long-lasting protection from the virus. Therefore, whatever your test result, we ask that you follow government advice and continue with whatever precautions you were using prior to the test. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

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My test result is IgG positive, am I infectious?

The result of this test does not tell us anything about infectivity. Therefore, whatever your test result, we ask that you follow government advice and continue with whatever precautions you were using prior to the test. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

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My test result is IgG positive, can I break social distancing rules?

No, you must continue to follow current government guidance on social distancing. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

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My test result is IgG positive, do I have to self-isolate?

You and your household must still follow self-isolation guidelines if you have any symptoms. If you do not have symptoms, you and your household must still follow social distancing rules. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

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I’ve tested positive for IgG after having a COVID-19 vaccine, does this mean it’s worked and I’m protected from the virus?

A positive IgG test result could indicate that you may have had an immune response to the vaccine and have developed antibodies: although it’s important to remember that these tests aren’t 100% accurate. This type of antibody test also doesn’t differentiate if you have had an immune response because of the vaccine or because you have previously been infected with the virus. At the moment, we do not know if having antibodies, either due to having a COVID-19 vaccine or because of previous infection with the virus gives someone long-lasting protection from the virus. Therefore, whatever your test result, we ask that you follow government advice and continue with whatever precautions you were using prior to the test. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

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8. Negative test result

My test result is negative, what does this mean?

If your test result is negative this means the test has not found antibodies in your blood that react with the virus that causes COVID-19.

However, please do not be concerned if your antibody test result is negative even though you will have had at least three doses of the vaccine. It is possible that the antibody test will be unable to detect low levels of antibodies produced in response to a COVID-19 vaccine. It can take some time for antibodies to appear in the blood after a vaccine which can vary from individual to individual. In particular factors like age or certain medicines may determine how quickly your body will produce antibodies.

Therefore, whatever your test result, we ask that you follow government advice and continue with whatever precautions you were using prior to the test. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus and for more information on the effectiveness of vaccine please visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/

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My test result is negative, am I immune to COVID-19?

No, a negative test result does not mean you are immune. A negative result may mean that you have never been exposed to virus or that you have antibodies to the virus, but they are below the limit of detection with this test. It is possible that the antibody test will be unable to detect low levels of antibodies produced in response to a COVID-19 vaccine. It can take some time for antibodies to appear in the blood after a vaccine which can vary from individual to individual. In particular factors like age or certain medicines may determine how quickly your body will produce antibodies.

At the moment, we do not know if having antibodies, either due to having a COVID-19 vaccine or because of previous infection with the virus gives someone long-lasting protection from the virus. Therefore, whatever your test result, we ask that you follow government advice and continue with whatever precautions you were using prior to the test. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

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My test result is negative, am I infectious?

The result of this test does not tell us anything about infectivity. You should continue to follow the current government advice regarding social distancing and self-isolation, and continue with whatever precautions you were using prior to the test regardless of the result of this test. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

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My test result is negative, do I have to self-isolate?

If you get a negative result, you and your household must still follow self-isolation guidelines if you have any symptoms. If you do not have symptoms, you and your household must still follow whatever social distancing rules are in place. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

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I’ve tested negative for IgG after having a COVID-19 vaccine, does this mean it hasn’t worked and I could still get COVID-19?

Please do not be concerned if your antibody test result is negative even if you have had a vaccine. It is possible that the antibody test will be unable to detect low levels of antibodies produced in response to a COVID-19 vaccine. After a COVID-19 vaccine it can take some time for antibodies to appear in the blood which can vary from individual to individual. In particular factors like age or certain medicines may determine how quickly your body will produce antibodies, so depending on when you had your vaccine it may be that they have not yet appeared.

At the moment, we do not know if having antibodies, either due to having a COVID-19 vaccine or because of previous infection with the virus gives someone long-lasting protection from the virus. By taking part in research and telling us about your COVID-19 vaccine, you are helping us to understand more.

Whatever your test result, we ask that you follow government advice and continue with whatever precautions you were using prior to the test. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus and for more information on the effectiveness of vaccine please visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/

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9. Invalid test result

My test result is invalid, what does this mean?

If your test result is invalid this means the test has not worked and it is not possible to give you a result. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus     

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10. The online survey

How do I complete the online survey?

Please go to www.melodystudy.org/antibodytest to complete the online survey. You will need your access code included with your test letter and, optionally, pictures of your test kit.  Alternatively, we can help you complete it on the phone by calling our FREEPHONE helpline on 0800 819 9150.

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Can I complete the online survey if I have not done the test?

Yes, we are interested in hearing the views of those who have and have not completed the test. Please still complete the online survey by going on www.melodystudy.org/antibodytest

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Why do I need to take a photograph of my test result, and how should I send this to you?

If you participate in the study, you will be asked to take a photograph of your test result within 10-15 minutes from when you have undertaken the blood test. We would like you to upload your photograph when prompted to do so at the relevant question in the survey, as this will aid our analysis. If you are unable to upload your photograph, please do not email it as this is not a secure way to provide your test result. Instead, you should select the option “Unable to upload photo”, and then continue with the rest of the survey questionnaire. If you cannot upload your photograph (or if you are unable to take a photograph of your test result), you should still complete the survey.

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Does this survey use Cookies or similar code?

Yes. Some online surveys collect information through the use of 'cookies'. These are small files stored on your computer.  These files are used as sparingly as possible and only for quality control, validation and, more importantly, to prevent us sending you reminders for an online survey you have already completed. It is possible for you to delete 'cookies' or to prevent their use by adjusting the browser settings on your computer.

We also automatically capture information about your operating system, display settings and browser type in order to ensure that the online survey is delivered in a form suited to the software your computer is using. We do not capture any other information from your computer.

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Additional contact details

If you have further questions about this study, please contact the Research Team, email [email protected]

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