COVID-19 Swab Test FAQs

Frequently asked questions about your COVID-19 swab testing kit.

I. Introduction

Ipsos MORI and Imperial College London are conducting this research on behalf of the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), to help work out how much virus is circulating across the country including in people who do not have any symptoms.

This FAQ document answers questions in the first person ‘I’ but please substitute this with ‘my child’ where relevant. Similarly, responses are written out as ‘you’, please substitute this with ‘your child’ where relevant.

The REACT Study: What it is and how it works

II. Research Background
What is this research about?
Who is doing this research?
How do you know my name and address?
Why have I been asked to take part?
What is a swab test?

III. Taking Part
Do I have to take part?
What do I have to do?
How do I register to take part and receive a test kit?
I don’t want to take part, can I opt out?
I don’t want to take part, what should I do with the kit?
Why have you sent this to my deceased relative?
I received a test kit, but this person does not live at this address. What do I do?
I have had a COVID-19 vaccination, can I still take part in the study?
I am regularly tested because I work in a school or college. Should I still take part in this study?
My child and I are regularly tested because they attend school or college. Should I still take part in this study?
I am regularly tested at work because I am a key worker. Should I still take part in this study?
I have been offered a gift voucher if I return my completed swab test. When will I get my voucher?
I have been offered a gift voucher if I return my completed swab test. How will I receive my voucher?
I have been offered a gift voucher if I return my completed swab test. How do I spend my voucher?

IV. Using the test kit
I’ve received the swab test kit. What do I do with it?
I am having trouble taking the test, can you help?
I haven’t got a booklet. What should I do?
Can someone help me take the swab?
Can someone else take the test instead of me?
I did the swab test wrong. What do I do?
Can you send me another test for someone else in my household to do it?
I’ve injured myself or feel unwell – what should I do?

V. Sending the swab test for analysis and next steps
How do I send the swab test for analysis?
How do I label the swab test?
I accidently did someone else’s test and sent it back, what do I do?
Is there a cut-off date for taking the swab and sending the test back?
What will happen to the swab test once I’ve sent it?
Will I find out the results of the swab test?
How long will it take for me to get the results?
Where can I find the results from the REACT study?
Do I get a voucher for taking part?
Will taking part mean I need to self-isolate and affect my access to NHS services or my child’s schooling?
Can I get a COVID-19 vaccination if I am waiting for my test result from this study?
If I have had a COVID-19 vaccination will my swab test be positive for that reason?
Does the test show if I have a new variant of COVID-19?
Can I enter my result into the NHS COVID-19 app?
Do you inform NHS Test and Trace of my result?
Will NHS Test and Trace contact me?
My test result is positive, what does this mean?
My test result is negative, what does this mean?
My test result is inconclusive, what does this mean?

VI. Online survey
How do I complete the online survey?
Can I complete the online survey if I have not done the swab test?

VII. GDPR and Ethics
Is this research GDPR compliant?
What will happen with the information I provide?
What are my choices about how my information is used?
Where can I find out more about how my information is used?
Has this research received ethical approval?
How were people chosen to take part?
Are national data opt-outs applied to this survey?
Has Ipsos MORI got access to my health data?
Who is information shared with and for what purpose?
Does this survey use Cookies or similar code?
What happens to the answers I give online?
Where will my personal data be held and processed?
What happens to my test?
How will Ipsos MORI and Imperial College London ensure my personal information is secure?
How long will Ipsos MORI and Imperial College London retain my personal data and identifiable responses?
How can I contact DHSC, Ipsos MORI and Imperial College London about this survey and/or my personal data?

II. Research Background

What is this research about?

Ipsos MORI and Imperial College London are conducting the Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) study on behalf of the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), to help the Government to measure the prevalence of COVID-19 in different areas of the country including in people who do not have any symptoms.

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Who is doing this research?

Imperial College London is a leading university closely involved in the COVID-19 response and Ipsos MORI is an independent research organisation. Both are carrying out the study on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). You can find out more about Imperial College London at https://www.imperial.ac.uk/ , Ipsos MORI at https://www.ipsos-mori.com, and DHSC at https://www.gov.uk/dhsc.

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How do you know my name and address?

Your name was chosen at random from the NHS list of patients registered with a GP. Under the General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018 NHS England are responsible for your data. For the data collected as part of this survey, the Department of Health and Social Care will be a joint ‘Data Controller’ together with Imperial College London. Ipsos MORI is a data processor, acting on behalf of DHSC and Imperial College London.

Ipsos MORI and Imperial College London will keep your contact details confidential and use them to send out the test for this study if you register to take part. Neither organisation has been given any information about your health.

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Why have I been asked to take part?

You have been randomly selected to take part in this research to give a better understanding of the extent to which the virus that causes COVID-19 is present in the community.

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What is a swab test?

A swab test or ‘antigen’ test involves taking a swab of your nose and throat. We will provide full instructions with the kit. There is no obligation to take the test if you agree to be sent it.  The test is of a high clinical standard, can be self-administered, and takes only a few minutes to complete.  It may cause some mild short-lived discomfort. The test tells us whether you may currently have the COVID-19 virus, not whether you have had it in the past.  Results are not 100% conclusive so a negative result does not guarantee you do not have the virus.

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III. Taking Part

Do I have to take part?

Taking part is voluntary and you do not have to take part if you do not want to. If you do decide to take part, the results will help understand more about the prevalence of COVID-19 in different areas of the country.

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What do I have to do?

If you agree to take part, you will need to register online or via telephone if you do not have access to the internet by calling FREEPHONE helpline 0800 157 7818 and answering some questions about you. We will then send you a COVID-19 self-testing kit. The test involves taking a swab of your nose and throat. We will provide full instructions with the kit. There is no obligation to take the test if you agree to be sent it.

Once you have done the swab, the kit should be returned to the laboratory by post using your local priority postbox and we will inform you of the result of your test (showing whether or not the COVID-19 virus was detected on the sample you provided).

We would also like you to complete a short questionnaire as well as doing the swab test, which asks about you, including your health and any COVID-19 related symptoms you may have had.

The swab test results will be passed to Ipsos MORI and Imperial College London to link to the information in the questionnaire. All questionnaire information will be kept confidential by Ipsos MORI, and approved Imperial College London staff and researchers. Nobody will be able to identify you in any published results.

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How do I register to take part and receive a test kit?

You can register by going to www.reactstudy.org/antigenreg. If you do not have access to the internet you can register by telephoning our FREEPHONE helpline on 0800 157 7818.

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

Yes.  Please telephone our FREEPHONE helpline on 0800 157 7818 or email [email protected]. When you contact us please provide your address or the eight-character serial on your letter.

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

Please complete the online survey even if you do not do the swab test. The survey is a very important part of the study, as it provides information about people’s health which is vital for scientists in the fight against the virus.

Please then dispose of the test kit securely – do not pass it to anyone else, even if they feel unwell. You can dispose of the test kit in your standard rubbish, please just place it in the bag it came in and throw it away (you can recycle the flat pack box that came with the test).

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Why have you sent this to my deceased relative?

We sincerely apologise for sending the letter to your relative, and we are sorry for any distress or upset this may have caused. Names were chosen at random from the NHS list of patients registered with a GP in England and this may have happened because the records held for your relative are not up to date, or have not yet been changed. You can telephone our FREEPHONE helpline on 0800 157 7818 or email [email protected] with the address or eight character serial number on the letter to opt out of further correspondence for this research.

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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. You can dispose of the test kit in your standard rubbish, please just place it in the bag it came in and throw it away (you can recycle the flat pack box that came with the test).

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I have had a COVID-19 vaccination, can I still take part in the study?

Yes, we would still like you to take part in the study even if you have had a COVID-19 vaccination, as your participation will help to measure the prevalence of COVID-19 in the population. Please complete the follow up questionnaire on www.reactstudy.org/antigentest even if you do not complete the swab test as this asks whether you have had a COVID-19 vaccination, about any symptoms you have experienced, as well as other questions which are vital for scientists to understand how much the virus is circulating in the population. If you have a positive test result, you and your household must follow the Stay at Home guidance whether or not you have symptoms. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

I am regularly tested because I work in a school or college. Should I still take part in this study?

We would still like you to take part even if you are regularly being tested because your child attends school or college or because you work in a school setting. Regular testing aims to help prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in schools/colleges and keep them open. This study helps to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in the whole population so if you or your child have been invited to take part in this study it is very important you do so even if you are tested regularly.

For more information about education, universities and childcare during coronavirus, please visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak and www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision.

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My child and I are regularly tested because they attend school or college. Should I still take part in this study?

We would still like you to take part even if you are regularly being tested because your child attends school or college or because you work in a school setting.  Regular testing aims to help prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in schools/colleges and keep them open. This study helps to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in the whole population so if you or your child have been invited to take part in this study it is very important you do so even if you are tested regularly.

For more information about education, universities and childcare during coronavirus, please visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak and www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision.

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I am regularly tested at work because I am a key worker. Should I still take part in this study?

Regular key worker testing aims to help prevent COVID-19 outbreaks affecting key public services. This study helps measure the prevalence of COVID-19 in the whole population, including in people who do not have symptoms and provides important information to the Government about COVID-19. If you have been invited to take part, it is important that you do so, even if you are regularly tested elsewhere. 

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I have been offered a gift voucher if I return my completed swab test. When will I get my voucher?

A small number of randomly selected people who have been invited to take part in the REACT study in Round 15 (October to November 2021) will receive a gift voucher if they return a completed swab test. If you are one of these people it will say on your invitation letter. All gift vouchers will be sent by Ipsos MORI after the study has closed, in mid-November 2021.

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I have been offered a gift voucher if I return my completed swab test. How will I receive my voucher?

A small number of randomly selected people who have been invited to take part in the REACT study in Round 15 (October to November 2021) will receive a gift voucher if they return a completed swab test. If you have been selected to receive a gift voucher for taking part (which will be stated on your invitation letter) and agree to receive an online gift voucher this will be sent to the same email address you provided in the registration survey. Alternatively, you can receive the voucher by post. This will be sent to the same address as the letter you received inviting you to take part in this study.

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I have been offered a gift voucher if I return my completed swab test. How do I spend my voucher?

If you have provided your email address Ipsos MORI will send you an email containing a unique voucher code to claim.  You can use this link to select a gift voucher of your choice from a variety of retailers, restaurants and entertainment services. Please be sure to check your junk or spam folder in case the email containing the voucher was filtered out of your inbox.

If you have opted for a postal voucher, Ipsos MORI will send your voucher to you in the post. This will be sent to the same address as the letter you received inviting you to take part in this study.

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IV. Using the test kit

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

We are asking you to administer a “swab test” of the nose and throat. There should be a booklet included in the envelope with the test which we ask you to read carefully. The test can be self-administered and takes only a few minutes to complete. It may feel a little uncomfortable.

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

If you are having trouble taking the test, please read the instruction booklet carefully and watch the video demonstration on How to take the self-swab test.  If after watching the video and reading the instruction booklet you have questions, please contact the helpline by calling 0800 157 7818 or email [email protected].

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I haven’t got a booklet. What should I do?

If you haven’t got a booklet included with your test kit pack, please inform the helpline by calling 0800 157 7818 or email [email protected] with the address or eight character serial on the letter.

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Can someone help me take the swab 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?

It is important that the test is done by the person it was addressed to, so that we can ensure that we get accurate information on the prevalence of COVID-19. Please do not pass it on to anyone else in your household.

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I did the swab test wrong. What do I do now?

Even if you do not think the test has worked, please still post the test. Please also complete the online survey. The survey is a very important part of the study, as it provides information about people’s health which is vital for scientists in the fight against the virus.

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Can you send me another test for someone else in my household to do it?

No.  For the study results to be accurate it is essential that only those individuals who are sent the tests do them.  Do not pass the test kit to anyone else, even if they feel unwell.

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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.  If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111.  For a medical emergency dial 999.

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V. Sending the swab test for analysis and next steps

How do I send the swab test for analysis?

Post your sample in a Royal Mail priority postbox with the NHS logo. Please post your test on the same day you complete it and no later than 1 hour before the last collection. You can find your nearest priority postbox by visiting: www.royalmail.com/services-near-you.

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How do I label the swab test?

Please place one of the serial number labels provided on the vial which you put the swab inside, and one on the plastic biohazard bag. 

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I accidentally did someone else’s test and sent it back, what do I do?

Please contact the helpline to let us know you have accidentally completed someone else’s test as it is important that tests are completed by the person they are sent to. You can contact the helpline on FREEPHONE 0800 157 7818 or email [email protected].

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Is there a cut-off date for taking the swab test and sending the test back?

Please complete the test, post it, and do the online survey as soon as you can.

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What will happen to the swab test once I’ve sent it?

The swab will be analysed in a lab and you will be informed of the result within a few days of us receiving your test. For some people this may take slightly longer so please allow up to one week for your test result to be sent to you. We aim to process tests and send results as soon as possible. Once analysed, the test will show whether the virus that causes COVID-19 was detected. This will help measure the prevalence of COVID-19 including in people who do not have any symptoms.

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Will I find out the results of the swab test?

Yes, once the test is analysed in a laboratory, we will send the swab test results back to everyone who takes part. It is important that you continue to follow the current Government advice around social distancing, regardless of what the results of your test show. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

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How long will it take for me to get the results?

The results will be sent within a few days of us receiving your test. Please allow up to one week for the results to be sent to you. If it has been longer than 7 days and you have not received your results, please telephone our FREEPHONE helpline on 0800 157 7818 or email [email protected] with the address or eight character serial on the letter.

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Where can I find the results from the REACT study?

You can find further information about the REACT study including all the latest publications on the following website www.imperial.ac.uk/medicine/research-and-impact/groups/react-study/.

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Do I get a voucher for taking part?

A small number of randomly selected people who have been invited to take part in the REACT study in Round 15  (October - November 2021) will receive a gift voucher if they return a completed swab test. This is to test whether gift vouchers will improve participation rates. Gift vouchers will be sent ten days after the study has closed, by mid-November 2021.

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Will taking part mean I need to self-isolate and affect my access to NHS services or my child’s schooling?

There is no requirement for you to self-isolate whilst you are waiting for the results of your test as part of the REACT study. This is because the sampling is random and you are being provided with the swab test as part of the study, not because you are a suspected COVID-19 case or a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case. However if you or anyone in your household has or develops symptoms, or has been in close contact with anyone who has been confirmed as having COVID-19, then you must follow the Stay at Home guidance on the gov.uk website. If you receive a positive test result from taking part in this study, you can find more information under “My test result is positive, what does this mean?".

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Can I get a COVID-19 vaccination if I am waiting for my test result from this study?

Yes, please get the COVID-19 vaccination if you are waiting for the test result from this study. There is no requirement for you to self-isolate whilst you are waiting for the results of your test as part of the REACT study. This is because you have been selected to take part in this study at random and you are being provided with the swab test as part of the study, not because you are a suspected COVID-19 case or a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case. However, if you or anyone in your household has or develops symptoms, or has been in close contact with anyone who has been confirmed as having COVID-19, then you must follow the Stay at Home guidance on www.gov.uk/coronavirus. If you receive a positive test result from taking part in this study, you can find more information under “My test result is positive, what does this mean?".

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If I have had a COVID-19 vaccination will my swab test be positive for that reason?

The PCR test detects the presence of viral RNA in the nose and throat. The vaccinations do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19 and so they cannot provide a positive result for a PCR test. Please tell us if you have had a COVID-19 vaccination by completing the follow up questionnaire on www.reactstudy.org/antigentest even if you do not complete the swab test. The survey is a very important part of the study, as it provides information about people’s health which is vital for scientists in the fight against the virus.

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Does the test show if I have a new variant of COVID-19?

If your test result is positive, the viral RNA may be sent for analysis to determine which variant of the virus has been detected and to allow the Government to monitor the COVID-19 variants in circulation. This does not involve looking at human DNA or RNA and no information about you is shared with the lab that does the analysis. Ipsos MORI do not hold information from this analysis and cannot provide any details about variants at an individual level. The analysis will be shared with Imperial College London and may be shared with NHS Test and Trace. For more information please visit https://www.cogconsortium.uk/.

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Can I enter my result into the NHS COVID-19 app?

If you test positive for COVID-19 you may be contacted by NHS Test and Trace directly, and if so they will tell you how to enter your result into the NHS COVID-19 app. If you receive a negative or inconclusive result you do not need to enter your result in the NHS COVID-19 app. Access codes used as part of this study will not be accepted on the NHS COVID-19 app.  If you are aged 16 or over, you can download the NHS COVID-19 app to help control the spread of the virus and protect yourself and others by visiting https://covid19.nhs.uk. For further information about Test and Trace please visit the NHS website.

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Do you inform NHS Test and Trace of my result?

Ipsos MORI has a legal obligation to pass on your test result (whether positive, negative or inconclusive) and a small amount of additional data about you to NHS Test and Trace. 

The full list of information relating to the participant is as follows: first name, surname, sex, date of birth, NHS number (if known), ethnicity, current address (including postcode), telephone number (only in the case of SARS-CoV-2 positive or indeterminate results), email address (only in the case of SARS-CoV-2 positive or indeterminate results).

The full list of information relating to the test is as follows: name of the test provider, the type of establishment of the test provider (for example school), test result code (such as COVID-19 +ve/-ve or influenza A +ve/-ve), specimen identification number (if applicable), specimen type, specimen date, date test performed, test method (for example PCR), name of the testing equipment manufacturer.

For further information please visit the gov.uk website.

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Will NHS Test and Trace contact me?

Ipsos MORI has a legal obligation to pass on your test result (whether positive, negative or inconclusive) and a small amount of additional data about you to NHS Test and Trace.  A full list of the data that will be provided can be found on the gov.uk website.

We always send the required details (see above) to NHS Test and Trace on the same day you receive your result by email or SMS. NHS Test and Trace process this information in their own systems before contact tracing begins. Ipsos MORI has no direct knowledge of these systems and is not involved in this processing. Ipsos MORI is not informed when contact tracing takes place, nor the method of contact for each individual so Ipsos MORI cannot deal with any queries about contact tracing. If you are aged 16 or over, you can download the NHS COVID-19 app to help control the spread of the virus and protect yourself and others by visiting https://covid19.nhs.uk.

For further information about Test and Trace please visit the NHS website.

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My test result is positive, what does this mean?

This means you may have COVID-19. If you get a positive test result, you and your household must follow the Stay at Home guidance whether or not you have symptoms. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus. If you test positive for COVID-19 we will also pass your details to NHS Test and Trace so that they can contact you.

Ipsos MORI has a legal obligation to pass on your test result (whether positive, negative or inconclusive) and a small amount of additional data about you to NHS Test and Trace.  A full list of the data that will be provided can be found on the gov.uk website.

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My test result is negative, what does this mean?

This means the COVID-19 virus was not detected on your swab sample.

If you or anyone in your household has or develops symptoms you must follow the Stay at Home guidance even if you have a negative test result. For the current Government guidance about COVID-19, please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus. A negative result is not 100% conclusive and you and your household should continue to observe social distancing guidance.

Ipsos MORI has a legal obligation to pass on your test result (whether positive, negative or inconclusive) and a small amount of additional data about you to NHS Test and Trace.  A full list of the data that will be provided can be found on the gov.uk website.

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My test result is inconclusive, what does this mean?

This means the test has not worked and it is not possible to give you a result. If you or anyone in your household has or develops symptoms you must follow the Stay at Home guidance even if you have an inconclusive test result. You must continue to follow current government guidance about COVID-19. For the current Government guidance please visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Ipsos MORI has a legal obligation to pass on your test result (whether positive, negative or inconclusive) and a small amount of additional data about you to NHS Test and Trace.  A full list of the data that will be provided can be found on the gov.uk website.

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VII. Online survey

How do I complete the online survey?

If you already have your test kit, please go to www.reactstudy.org/antigentest to complete the online survey. If you have not yet registered to receive a test kit, please go to www.reactstudy.org/antigenreg to register. You will need your access code which can be found on your invitation letter or on the address label sheet provided with the test kit. Alternatively, we can help you complete it on the phone.

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

Yes, if you have received a test kit, but do not want to do the swab test we are interested in finding out about you and your health, so please do complete the survey. If you have not yet registered to receive a test kit, make sure you complete the registration survey at www.reactstudy.org/antigenreg.

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VIII. GDPR and Ethics

Is this research GDPR compliant?

Yes.  Ipsos MORI is a member of the Market Research Society. All questionnaire information will be kept confidential by Ipsos MORI, and approved Imperial College London staff and researchers. Nobody will be able to identify you in any published results.

The GDPR includes a number of rights, although not all of these apply where the legal basis for processing is public task, including the right to erasure and data portability.

You have the right to request access to any personal data within the limited period that Ipsos MORI holds it, before the end of January 2022 when it is deleted.

Providing responses to this survey is entirely voluntary and is done so with your consent.  You have the right to withdraw your consent to our processing of your personal data at any time before the data is processed for reporting in January 2022.

We must generally respond to requests in relation to your rights within one month, although there are some exceptions to this. The DHSC Privacy Notice explains your rights and how to exercise them.

You have the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) or another data protection regulator, if you have concerns on how we have processed your personal data. You can find details about how to contact the Information Commissioner’s Office at https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/ or by sending an email to: [email protected]

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What will happen with the information I provide?

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Imperial College London are joint data controllers for the processing of personal data for this survey, which means that they are responsible for ensuring that the processing complies with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). You can access DHSC’s Privacy Notice here and Imperial’s Privacy Notice here.

Ipsos MORI is a data processor, acting on behalf of DHSC and Imperial College London. They will only keep your data in a way that can identify you for as long as is necessary to support the research project and findings. By 22 October 2021 Ipsos MORI will delete your personal contact data from their systems.

If you consent to being contacted for future research, and/or for the results of this study being linked to other health information that the NHS holds about you, Imperial College London, may keep your data for up to 20 years in order to support this research. That includes the contact details you provide to Ipsos MORI.  If you have consented to data linkage, we may receive your contact details from the NHS and, if you have consented to be contacted for future studies we may use them to contact you.

If you agree to data linkage, identifiable data may be shared outside the two research teams (Ipsos MORI and Imperial College London) and NHS Test and Trace for the purposes of data linkage only.  It will not be possible to identify you in any published results.

If you agree to data linkage, your survey answers will NOT be provided to your healthcare provider.

Researchers who wish to access the data from this study and/or to contact participants about future research will have to apply to a data access committee composed of at least 3 of the study investigators and at least one public representative.

Ipsos MORI has a legal obligation to pass on your test result (whether positive, negative or inconclusive) and a small amount of additional data about you to NHS Test and Trace. A full list of the data that will be provided can be found on the gov.uk website.

This change in law has been made to improve the overall understanding of how COVID-19 is spreading and to improve the actions taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Legal Basis

We use personally-identifiable information collected in this study to conduct research to improve health, care and services.

The Department of Health and Social Care, who are the data controller for this study, have the following legal duty under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and are conducting this research in order to discharge that duty, to generate incidence and prevalence rates in relation to COVID-19. 

DUTY: Protection of public health Under section 11 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, the Department of Health and Social Care has a statutory duty to protect ‘the public in England from disease or other dangers to health’ including conducting research ‘for advancing knowledge and understanding’

The legal bases for the majority of processing conducted by the Department of Health and Social Care is:

  • Article 6(1)(e) – processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller.

For the REACT COVID-19 testing research study this means that the Department of Health and Social Care are not relying on consent as a basis for obtaining contact details or for processing the data provided voluntarily by those completing it, and they can use the personal data they hold about you for research with appropriate safeguards in place. For this study they have shared a limited amount of information with the research team at Ipsos MORI in order to invite a random selection of patients to take part in the testing research.

Ipsos MORI is required by law to provide information to NHS Test and Trace under The Health Protection (Notification) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 and The Health Protection (Notification) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020. You can find what information is provided under “What will happen with the information I provide?"

Health and Social Care research should serve the public interest, which means that we have to demonstrate that our research serves the interests of society as a whole. We do this by following the UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research.

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What are my choices about how my information is used?

You can stop taking part in the study at any time, without giving a reason, however once your data has been included with the rest of the study data and analysed, it is not possible to remove your specific data from the results.

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Where can I find out more about how my information is used?

You can find out more about how your information is used on the privacy notice on www.ipsos.uk/covid-swab-privacy. For further information on Patient information and health and care research please visit www.hra.nhs.uk/information-about-patients.

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Has this research received ethical approval?

This study has received formal ethical approval from the South Central - Berkshire B Research Ethics Committee. In addition, Ipsos MORI adheres to the Market Research Society code of research ethics, and the patient details provided are not used for anything other than the purpose of this study.

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How were people chosen to take part?

Ipsos MORI is contacting you on behalf of DHSC. Names were chosen at random from the NHS list of patients registered with a GP in England. NHS Digital has shared a limited amount of your personal data so that Ipsos MORI can invite you to take part in this research. This data consists of:

  • Your name and address
  • Your mobile number
  • Your NHS number
  • Your gender and month/year of birth

This information has come from the Personal Demographics Service, the national electronic database of all NHS patients registered with a GP. While patients can opt out of having their confidential patient information shared, this does not apply to the demographic information held on the Personal Demographics Service. There is more information on this in our Privacy Notice: www.ipsos.uk/covid-swab-privacy. You can find more information on the Personal Demographics Service here. Ipsos MORI may use your telephone number to contact you to remind you to register for the study.

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Are national data opt-outs applied to this survey?

No. NHS Digital have stated that the information shared with Ipsos MORI from the Personal Demographics Service, for the purpose of the REACT 1 study, should be classed as Confidential Patient Information. NHS Digital has shared a limited amount of your personal data so that Ipsos MORI can invite you to take part in this research. This data consists of:

  • Your name and address
  • Your mobile number
  • Your NHS number
  • Your gender and month/year of birth 

Ipsos MORI has not been given access to clinical data about any individual (such as any medical conditions, prescriptions or care received), nor any information from an individual’s medical record.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has issued NHS Digital with a Notice under Regulation 3(4) of the Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002 (COPI) to require NHS Digital to share confidential patient information with organisations entitled to process this under COPI for COVID-19 purposes. These data have been provided to Ipsos MORI under this COPI regulation and, as such, the National Data Opt-out does not apply.

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Has Ipsos MORI got access to my health data?

No, absolutely not. Ipsos MORI has been given your NHS number, name, address, phone number, month/year of birth, and gender. Ipsos MORI has not been given any information about your health.

Ipsos MORI is given your NHS number so that it can, as far as possible, avoid selecting people for more than one round of the study. Your contact details are used to contact you regarding the study.

Information about date of birth and gender will be used to make sure that the anonymised survey data matches the profile of the population as closely as possible.

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Who is information shared with and for what purpose?

Ipsos MORI and Imperial College are working with supplier organisations to assist us in running this COVID-19 testing research. If you are happy for us to send you a testing kit, we will need to disclose your personal data to these supplier organisations for that purpose. These supplier organisations are:

  • Formara and Adare: printing letters and despatching testing kits (name, month/year of birth and gender)
  • Royal Mail: distribution
  • Tivian (online data collection) (name, month/year of birth and gender)
  • Textlocal (to contact you by text about the study, including the results of your test) (mobile phone number)

These suppliers are approved and compliant with the General Data Protection Regulations.

Ipsos MORI has a legal obligation to pass on your test result (whether positive, negative or inconclusive) and a small amount of additional data about you to NHS Test and Trace, to improve the overall understanding of how COVID-19 is spreading and to improve the actions taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The full list of information relating to the participant is as follows: first name, surname, sex, date of birth, NHS number (if known), ethnicity, current address (including postcode), telephone number (only in the case of SARS-CoV-2 positive or indeterminate results), email address (only in the case of SARS-CoV-2 positive or indeterminate results).

The full list of information relating to the test is as follows: name of the test provider, the type of establishment of the test provider (for example school), test result code (such as COVID-19 +ve/-ve or influenza A +ve/-ve), specimen identification number (if applicable), specimen type, specimen date, date test performed, test method (for example PCR), name of the testing equipment manufacturer.

For further information please visit the gov.uk website.

There is more information about how your personal data will be used and stored in the Imperial College privacy policy and the Ipsos MORI privacy policy.

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Does this survey use Cookies or similar code?

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 survey questionnaire 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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What happens to the answers I give online?

Ipsos MORI and Imperial College London will keep all personal data collected for the survey and responses in strict confidence in accordance with the Privacy Notice. You can find this at www.ipsos.uk/covid-swab-privacy.

Some of your responses will be shared with NHS Test and Trace when we receive your test result. Otherwise no identifiable data will be shared outside the two research teams. It will not be possible to identify you in any published results.

We will also ask if you are happy for Imperial College London to link your answers and the results of your swab test to your NHS record. If you agree to this, Imperial College London may also link your survey answers to other health information that the NHS holds about you both now and in the future using your NHS number. This linkage would be done by the NHS and returned to Imperial College London.

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Where will my personal data be held and processed?

All of your personal data used and collected for this survey will be stored by Ipsos MORI and Imperial College London in data centres and servers within the United Kingdom and EEA.

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What happens to my test?

The swab test needs processing within 72 hours, so please post it in your local priority postbox on the same day you take the test.

The laboratory will share the results of the test with Ipsos MORI and Imperial College London.

The results from the test will be sent to you by email and/or text message, if you have provided these contact details, on the same day that we receive the information from the laboratory. A letter with your result will also be sent by first class post.

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How will Ipsos MORI and Imperial College London ensure my personal information is secure?

Ipsos MORI and Imperial College London take their information security responsibilities seriously and apply various precautions to ensure your information is protected from loss, theft or misuse. Security precautions include appropriate physical security of offices and controlled and limited access to computer systems.

Ipsos MORI has regular internal and external audits of its information security controls and working practices and is accredited to the International Standard for Information Security, ISO 27001.

Similar processes are in place at Imperial College London where a database to carry out statistical analyses of the data at postcode level will be established in an ISO 27001 environment.

Imperial College London’s insurance statement

Imperial College London holds insurance policies which apply to this study. If you experience harm or injury as a result of taking part in this study, you will be eligible to claim compensation without having to prove that Imperial College is at fault. This does not affect your legal rights to seek compensation.

If you are harmed due to someone's negligence, then you may have grounds for a legal action. Regardless of this, if you wish to complain, or have any concerns about any aspect of the way you have been treated during the course of this study then you should immediately inform the Investigators on [email protected]. The normal National Health Service mechanisms are also available to you. If you are still not satisfied with the response, you may contact the Imperial College, Joint Research Compliance Office.

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How long will Ipsos MORI and Imperial College London retain my personal data and identifiable responses?

Ipsos MORI will only retain your data in a way that can identify you for as long as is necessary to support the research project and findings.  In practice, this means that once we have satisfactorily captured the data and transferred the database to Imperial College London, we will securely remove your personal, identifying data from our systems.

For this project, Ipsos MORI will securely remove your personal data from our systems by 22 October 2021.

Imperial College London will maintain its database for up to 20 years to allow it to undertake studies of possible long-term health outcomes.

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How can I contact DHSC, Ipsos MORI and Imperial College London about this survey and/or my personal data?

If you have any questions about the research, please contact our helpline by email on [email protected] or by phone on FREEPHONE 0800 157 7818.

For questions about our privacy notice, our compliance with data protection laws or information we hold about you, please contact:

DHSC:
Email:    [email protected]
Post:      Department of Health and Social Care
1st Floor North
39 Victoria Street
London
SW1H 0EU

Ipsos MORI:
Email:    [email protected]
Post:      21-081531-01 REACT 1 COVID-19 testing study
Data Protection Officer, Compliance Department
Market and Opinion Research International Limited
3 Thomas More Square
London E1W 1YW
United Kingdom

Imperial College London:
Email:    [email protected],
Post:      Data Protection Officer
Imperial College London
Exhibition Road
South Kensington
London
SW7 2BU

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