Canadian COVID-19 Antibody and Health Survey
COVID-19 Antibodies: Frequently asked questions

  • 1. What do the results mean?

    1. What do the results mean?

    DBS

    • Positive – you were likely exposed to the COVID-19 virus or received the vaccine, and your body made antibodies against the virus.
    • Negative – antibodies against the COVID-19 virus were not found in your blood.
    • Inconclusive – your test result does not tell us if you have or do not have antibodies against the COVID-19 virus. This may be due to a problem with the test.

    PCR-Saliva test

    Positive – RNA specific to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 infection was detected in your saliva specimen.

    Negative – RNA specific to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 infection was not detected in your saliva specimen.

    Inconclusive – Your test result does not tell us if you have or do not have RNA specific to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 infection in your saliva specimen. This may be due to a problem with the test.

    If you have questions about the results of your test(s), please speak with your health care provider.

  • 2. If my COVID-19 antibody and/or PCR-saliva result is positive, do I need to do anything?

    2. If my COVID-19 antibody and/or PCR-saliva result is positive, do I need to do anything?

    DBS

    No, you don't need to do anything. A positive result tells you about an infection that happened in the past or that you received the vaccine. It does not mean you are currently infected. Please continue to follow public health measures.

    PCR Saliva Test

    A positive result tells you about an active COVID-19 infection at the time you provided your saliva specimen. Even if you tested negative for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 infection, you should still follow all recommendations from Public Health on how to keep yourself and others safe.

  • 3. How accurate is the DBS test?

    3. How accurate is the DBS test?

    From our experience with the tests so far, positive results are correct approximately 95% of the time. Negative results are correct approximately 99% of the time. No laboratory test is perfect. 

  • 4. What is the benefit of having antibodies to COVID-19?

    4. What is the benefit of having antibodies to COVID-19?

    At this time, there are known benefits to having antibodies to the COVID-19 virus, but experts are not sure how long the antibodies last or if they offer protection against future COVID-19 infections. More research is being done around the world, including in Canada, to try to answer these questions

  • 5. If I have antibodies can I get COVID-19 again?

    5. If I have antibodies can I get COVID-19 again?

    We don't know yet. For some infections, having antibodies protects people from getting the infection again. For other infections, it doesn't. More research is being done around the world to try to answer these questions.

  • 6. Why do some people have a positive DBS test and others have a negative DBS test?

    6. Why do some people have a positive DBS test and others have a negative DBS test?

    Some people may be more likely to get infected than others. This may depend on the amount of virus they were exposed to. People who become infected may make different amounts of antibodies. If a person only makes a very small amount of antibodies, the test may not be able to measure it. Whether a person who gets infected shows symptoms or not depends on age, underlying health conditions, and other factors that we are still learning about.

  • 7. What does it mean if I tested positive for COVID-19 from the saliva PCR test but my antibody test is negative?

    7. What does it mean if I tested positive for COVID-19 from the saliva PCR test but my antibody test is negative?

    Different people produce different amounts of antibodies. If you had a positive result from the saliva PCR test but a negative antibody test now, this may be because you did not produce a lot of antibodies to the infection. This does not mean that your saliva PCR test result was wrong.

  • 8. What does it mean if I tested negative from the saliva PCR test but my antibody test is positive?

    8. What does it mean if I tested negative from the saliva PCR test but my antibody test is positive?

    The saliva PCR test may have been done when the virus was not present in your saliva, so the virus was not detected. A positive antibody test result shows that you were exposed to the virus or received the vaccine, and your body made antibodies. It does not tell you about how the virus has affected you.

  • 9. What should I do if I have questions about my test results?

    9. What should I do if I have questions about my test results?

    If you have any questions or concerns about your test results, we recommend you talk to your health care provider.

  • 10. Do I still need to get vaccinated even if my results show I tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies?

    10. Do I still need to get vaccinated even if my results show I tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies?

    Yes. Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies should still be vaccinated. At this time, experts do not know how long someone might be protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19.

  • 11. I received my vaccine but received a negative antibody result. What does this mean?

    11. I received my vaccine but received a negative antibody result. What does this mean?

    This could mean that you received your vaccine after you performed the dried blood spot test, or you performed the test soon after receiving the vaccine which didn't allow your body enough time to produce a sufficient amount of antibodies to be detected in the test. These are two possibilities, among others.

  • 12. Where can I find more information on the Canadian COVID-19 Antibody and Health Survey (CCAHS)?

    11. Where can I find more information on the Canadian COVID-19 Antibody and Health Survey (CCAHS)?

    For more information on the CCAHS, please visit our website at Canadian COVID-19 Antibody and Health Survey (CCAHS).

  • 13. Can participants withdraw their consent to the storage of their biospecimens in the Biobank?

    13. Can participants withdraw their consent to the storage of their biospecimens in the Biobank?

    Yes. During sample collection, participants are asked whether they consent to the storage of their samples. At any time, during or after sample submission, participants can ask to have their samples removed from storage and destroyed by calling 1-888-253-1087, or by email to  statcan.biobankinfo-infobiobanque.statcan@statcan.gc.ca

  • 14. What kind of analyses are performed on samples stored at the Biobank?

    14. What kind of analyses are performed on samples stored at the Biobank?

    Samples stored at the Statistics Canada Biobank are used in health studies. Health studies include: 

    • Research looking for past exposures to new environmental contaminants 
    • New ways to monitor human nutrition 
    • Past prevalence of infectious diseases, discovery, and validation of new biomarkers to diagnose diseases 
    • Genetic research to assess the health status and susceptibility of Canadians to diseases, infections, or exposures to environmental contaminants.  
  • 15. Will my dried blood spot and saliva samples be used in genetic testing?

    15. Will my dried blood spot and saliva samples be used in genetic testing?

    Yes, it is possible that your sample will used for genetic testing. Genetic testing could include genome wide association studies, or genotyping.  

    Two Biobank projects have used genetic information from Biobank samples to link genetic data to health status outcomes. The first project, completed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, looked at how differences in the genetic code between Canadians could influence how those Canadians absorbed nutrients. The second project, in progress at McGill University, is looking at how differences in the genetic code influence health outcomes after exposure to environmental contaminants and metals. 

    At no point will Statistics Canada release your genome to the public. Statistics Canada, or any other Federal Department, which abides by Canada’s Privacy Act, would never allow your DNA to be used in this way. 

    It is possible to withdraw consent for genetic testing specifically while keeping your samples in the Statistics Canada Biobank for other projects. A participant can withdraw consent at any time by using the contact information found here: Biobank participants.

  • 16. How long will you keep my samples?

    16. How long will you keep my samples?

    Samples are stored in the Statistics Canada Biobank until they are no longer scientifically viable. Samples are removed when they are used for an approved research project or when a participant requests that their samples be removed and destroyed.

  • 17. Where can I get more information about the Biobank?

    17. Where can I get more information about the Biobank?

    Additional information such as the descriptions of approved Biobank studies are posted on the Biobank webpage. You can also access the website by entering 'Statistics Canada Biobank' in your preferred search engine.

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