Frequently Asked Questions

Why are you doing this project?

We are doing this project to estimate how many COVID-19 infections there have been in North Dakota and to learn about how our communities may be protected against later infection of COVID-19, whether that protection is from natural infection, vaccination, or both.

What is the difference between an antibody test and a PCR test?

Antibody tests can identify antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in your blood, which indicates past COVID-19 infection or vaccination. A PCR test indicates current COVID-19 infection.

How does the seroprevalence testing differentiate between the vaccine and natural infection?

Different types of COVID-19 antibodies are produced based on vaccination or natural infection. Serology testing can measure these different types of antibodies in the blood and indicate if a person likely has antibodies from vaccination, natural infection, or both.

Will I be getting my results from the tests?

Yes, you will receive the results of both tests. Your antibody test results will be mailed to you. The North Dakota Department of Health will notify you of your results from the oral swab (PCR) test.

What does a positive result for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 Nucleoprotein mean?

A positive result for antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 nucleoprotein suggests past infection.

What does a positive result for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 spike protein mean?

A positive result for antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein could be either from prior exposure to the vaccine or the virus. A positive result for spike protein but negative for nucleoprotein would be most consistent with past vaccination. A positive result for both spike protein and nucleoprotein would be most consistent with prior infection.

What do negative results for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 mean?

A negative test result for both antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 nucleoprotein and spike protein means that antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus or the vaccine were not detected in your blood. This could mean you have not been infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the past nor been vaccinated. It could also mean that you had an infection or vaccine recently, but your body hadn’t made antibodies yet, or your body didn’t make an amount of antibodies that could be detected by the test. It is also possible that you could have been infected or vaccinated in the past, but over time, your level of antibodies declined so that they are not detectable at the current time.

Is it safe to take part in this project?

Yes, it is absolutely safe to be here and take part in this project. We are following all COVID-19 safety recommendations put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the North Dakota Department of Health, the tribal health departments, UND, and NDSU. The phlebotomists who will be collecting the samples are trained and experienced in safely collecting blood and saliva samples.

Are there any costs for participating?

No, there will be no costs to you for taking part in the project.

Will I be paid for participating?

All individuals who participate in the sample collection event arm of the project will receive a $10 Visa gift card as a thank you for participating.

My household received an invitation to participate. Who should fill out the survey and participate in the testing events?

One adult (age 18 or older) in your household is invited to complete the survey. All North Dakota residents (age 18 or older) are invited to voluntarily participate in the sample collection events.

How long will I participate in this project?

It will take you about 10-15 minutes to complete each survey. We anticipate that you will spend about 30 minutes at each testing event. The surveys and testing events will take place three times, six months apart.

What do I need to bring to the sample collection events?

We ask that you bring a form of identification, such as your driver’s license. If you have received a COVID-19 vaccine, we are also asking you to bring your vaccine card for our project team to verify. If you don’t have your vaccine card, you can visit to request your immunization records.

What am I going to be doing at the sample collection events?

First, you will check in and complete the survey if you had not already mailed it in and you did not bring a completed survey with you. Next, we will have you read through and sign a consent form. We will answer any questions that you may have. Finally, one of our phlebotomists will collect a blood and saliva sample. If you’d like to take a snack and water there will be some available, and then you are free to go!

What is the consent process for the sample collection events?

The consent form covers things like the purpose of this project, the procedures that we are asking your consent for, privacy measures, and other important components. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask someone from our project team.

Once you’ve read through it and feel that you understand what you’re being asked to do, you will sign the form. This indicates your consent to participate in the project.

Where are the samples from the collection events going?

All blood samples will be shipped to a lab at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences where it will undergo serology tests by trained laboratory professionals.

All oral swab samples will be sent to the North Dakota Department of Health Division of Laboratory Services, where trained professionals will run PCR testing to check for current infection of COVID-19.

What are you going to do with this information?

This information will be used to better understand how North Dakota residents experienced COVID-19 and to inform public health on the response to COVID-19, on future outbreaks, and other public health emergencies. It will also help us understand the level of population immunity to COVID-19 brought on from natural infection, vaccination, or both.

Will anyone know I participated in this project?

This project is confidential, meaning that your identity will not be revealed to anyone outside of our project team. Each participant is assigned an ID number, and the connection between your ID number and your personal information is only accessible to the project team. The only piece of this project that is not confidential is the oral swab test, which requires your personal information so that someone from the Department of Health can contact you regarding your COVID-19 PCR test results.

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