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KCL TEST – Covid-19 Study

Join the study today

Please read the participant information before

Updated: 14 January 2021

Open to all King’s staff and students, KCL TEST offers a convenient, non-invasive saliva test to check for coronavirus for those who do not have symptoms (asymptomatic). Anyone can be a carrier of the COVID-19 virus without experiencing any symptoms. The aim of this major research study is to evaluate the use of the saliva test in educational settings, while managing the spread and transmission of the virus and helping to understand the wider impact on our lives. This is separate to the Lateral Flow antigen testing currently available on campus.

To pick up your test kit and to drop off your sample, please visit a KCL TEST Hub at:
Guy’s Campus – New Hunt’s House (Randall Entrance)
Waterloo Campus – Franklin Wilkins Building (FWB) Reception  
Denmark Hill – Institute of Psychiatry Psychology & Neuroscience (IOPPN) Reception
Strand Campus – Bush House South East Reception
St Thomas’ Hospital – Gate 3 Security Hut,163-168 Lambeth Palace Road

Residences (only available to those living or working in the residence)
Great Dover Street Apartments – Reception
Stamford Street Apartments – Reception
Angel Lane Residence – Reception

Hubs will be open Monday to Friday (8.00 – 12.00) from Monday 4 January 

It is not possible to post tests to you at this time, we hope to be able to offer this in the future.

If you have coronavirus symptoms, please do not take the saliva test through this scheme and do not come onto campus. Instead, please follow the NHS advice to book a test and please fill out the King’s Self-Isolation form so we can support you. 

Read the participant information before you register


The study consists of regular testing of asymptomatic students and staff for SARS-COV-2 (the virus causing COVID-19) and a series of surveys about a range of topics, including physical health, mental wellbeing, personal experiences with COVID-19, and resulting work and lifestyle changes.

Regular (ideally twice a week but at least once a week) saliva testing to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) at the time of each test. You will be asked to provide a sample of your saliva for testing in a laboratory.

Short fortnightly online surveys and more in-depth two-monthly online surveys. You will be asked questions about your wellbeing and experiences of working or studying at King’s during the coronavirus pandemic. Your responses will be anonymised and will only be used for the study – the data will not be shared any further.

We will invite you to take part in our contact tracing service only if you have tested positive for coronavirus through a KCL-TEST Saliva Test. This is optional and separate to the national NHS Test and Trace service. We will also invite you to complete an additional online survey about your experience of having coronavirus. Your responses will be anonymised and will only be used for the study – the data will not be shared any further.

Taking part in the study is voluntary. The opportunity is open to all King’s students and staff.

Ideally we would like participants to submit two tests a week, if they are able to. Frequent on-campus testing of our community who do not have coronavirus symptoms (asymptomatic) helps to manage the spread of the virus and by taking part you are helping to protect yourself and others.

The saliva test

Saliva is used as an alternative method of sample collection for a variety of tests and has the advantage of being simple and non-invasive. Through research, saliva has been found to be as sensitive as nose and throat swabs in coronavirus tests.

The PCR method that we are using to analyse your saliva sample is the most sensitive and accurate way of testing currently available, as it detects specifically the presence of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus which causes COVID-19) genetic material in a sample.

Saliva has been found to be as sensitive a method for detecting coronavirus as other nose and throat tests. Public Health England is currently considering whether the saliva test can be classified as an official coronavirus diagnostic test.

Saliva is used for community testing in many places around the world and enables safe and non-invasive testing that you can do at home. The collection tubes contain a solution that inactivates the virus, so transporting your sample to campus is safe for you and others.

The tests are non-invasive and completely pain-free. You will simply need to provide a saliva sample by spitting into a test tube.

Please visit one of the KCL TEST Hubs to pick up and drop off your sample. If you have coronavirus symptoms, please do not visit campus or submit a test. Instead, please follow the NHS advice to book a test and fill out the King’s Self-Isolation Reporting Form so we can support you.

There are Hubs located at

  • Guy’s Campus – New Hunt’s House (Randall Entrance)

  • Waterloo Campus – Franklin Wilkins Building (FWB) Reception

  • Denmark Hill – Institute of Psychiatry Psychology and Neuroscience (IOPPN) Reception

  • Strand Campus – Bush House South East Reception 30 Aldwych, London WC2B 4BG

  • St Thomas’ Hospital – Gate 3 Security Hut 163 – 168 Lambeth Palace Road, London, SE1 7EH

Residences (only available to those living or working in the residence)

  • Great Dover Street Apartments - Reception
  • Stamford Street Apartments - Reception
  • Angel Lane Residence– Reception

All KCL TEST Hubs – Opening Times  

  • Hubs will be open Monday to Friday (8.00 – 12.00) from Monday 4 January

While on campus, please adhere to the health and safety measures in place including safe distancing and wearing a face covering.

You will receive your result by text message and email. If you drop off your sample before midday on the days that the KCL TEST Hubs are open, you should receive your result within 48 hours.

The KCL TEST -COVID-19 Study uses saliva samples to test for SARS-COV-2 (the virus causing COVID-19) using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method. This is the same method that the NHS use in their testing centres around the country to test nasal and throat swabs. PCR using nasal and throat swabs is currently the most common form of testing.  

The Lateral Flow test (provided by the government and currently available to staff and students at King’s) is an antigen test and detects the presence of viral proteins in a nasal swab. It uses a technique similar to a pregnancy test, giving a rapid positive or negative result. No lab equipment is needed for this type of testing, making is easier to administer for surveillance in many settings without requiring a lab.

Taking part and test results

  • Please read the participation information sheet and Register on the KCL Test – COVID-19 Study.
  • Once you have registered, you will receive an email from with a unique link. Keep this email safe as you will need to use your unique link every time you take a test.
  • Pick up a test kit from your nearest KCL TEST Hub.
  • Register your test kit online. Using the unique link in your welcome email, scan the barcode on the test tube so we can link your sample to you. You can use your mobile or tablet camera to scan the barcode or you can enter the barcode manually.
  • Take your saliva test, following the instructions in the test kit.
  • Drop off your sample at your nearest KCL TEST Hub.

For more information, please email:

You should follow government guidelines and self-isolate for 10 days. Please complete the King’s Self-Isolation Reporting Form, so we can support you during your self-isolation period.

When you signed up to the study, you provided your consent for us to inform NHS Test and Trace if you tested positive for coronavirus. The NHS will contact you to arrange an additional test to confirm your positive result and will ask you for a list of recent close contacts for the NHS Test and Trace service

A negative result means that at the time you took the test we did not detect that you had the coronavirus. You can still get the virus in the future. You should continue to follow Government guidelines practice safe distancing and hygiene measures and we would also encourage you to take regular tests twice weekly if you are able. 

If at any time you experience coronavirus symptoms please do not submit another test or visit campus. Instead, follow the NHS advice to book a test and complete King’s Self-Isolation Reporting Form so that we can support you.

A void test result means that the sample had very little or no material in it and we could not detect anything. This is not a negative result, so please repeat the test.

If you received a positive Covid-19 test result, this means that SARS-COV-2 (the virus causing COVID-19) was detected in your saliva. If your subsequent NHS Test and Trace test was negative, you should still self-isolate as tests taken at different times can miss picking up the virus and your initial positive test is confirmation that you have COVID-19. 

The latest government guidance advises that you can come to campus for the sole purpose of taking a test, provided you do not have coronavirus symptoms. In travelling to campus to take a test, you should avoid using public transport where at all possible. If you have no other option than to use public transport, please follow the government guidance on observing safe distancing measures, wearing a face covering and washing hands thoroughly and regularly.

When you signed up to this study, you will have consented for your information to be used in the following way.

All data collected as part of this study is strictly confidential and will be held securely until the research is finished. All data for analysis will be anonymised and only accessed by the research team.

If you test positive, we will pass information onto the NHS and King’s Personal Health team. This is to ensure that you have access to the right information and support during your self-isolation period and for NHS Test and Trace purposes.

In all other instances, any data you provide will only be identifiable to the immediate research team. Other people will not be given access to any identifiable information.

Unfortunately, we do not have a postal service available on the study at the moment. We may add this as a service at a later date but for now, tests are only available from a KCL TEST Hub.

Yes, please continue as normal on the study and notify the research team of your vaccination via your next questionnaire. Questionnaires are sent every two weeks from the email address. Please remain vigilant to the measures in place. Respecting safe distancing, wearing a face covering unless exempt and regular hand washing are the best ways to help reduce transmission of the virus. Please see the Keeping King’s Safe Together webpages for information.

Travel and additional questions

These tests are currently not accepted by airlines requiring a ‘fit to fly’ certificate. These certificates are currently only available through private providers such as Boots and Lloyds Pharmacy. You should check ‘fit to fly’ requirements with your airline and country of entry before you travel. Information on fit to fly is available on Student Services Online.

These tests are not accepted for the government Test to Release scheme. For those of you travelling from overseas who will be required to self-isolate on arrival, you will have the opportunity to opt into the government Test to Release scheme. Under the scheme you can choose to pay for a private COVID-19 test. The earliest you can take the test is 5 full days after you left a destination not on the travel corridor list. If the result is negative, you can stop self-isolating. More information is available on the government website.

The scheme is voluntary and applies to those self-isolating in England only. If you choose not to take part in the Test to Release scheme, you will need to complete the full self-isolation period. Details are available on the government website.

While our PCR tests do not currently qualify for Test to Release, we are able to support students with a financial contribution of £100 towards the cost of your private test. More details on claiming this contribution is available on Student Services Online


We encourage all our students and staff to take part in regular testing. The study will run for the rest of the 2020/21 academic year and is expected to continue into the 2021/22 academic year. You can withdraw from the study at any time and similarly you can choose to re-join at any point too. Please email if you would like to withdraw from or re-join the study.