Skip to navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer

How to take a sample

Thank you for taking part in this important UK Biobank study. The information we collect will be used to improve understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic and to manage the outbreak.

Getting ready

  • Choose a time when you have been up for a little while and have been moving around.
  • It’s important to be well hydrated – drink two glasses of water about 30 minutes before you provide your blood sample.
  • Aim to collect and post your sample on the day requested in your email. If this isn’t possible, don’t worry. Simply take your sample and post it when you are able – aim for Monday to Thursday to ensure our laboratory receives your sample when it is open.

Preparing yourself

  • Get your blood pumping: climb the stairs once or twice (if you are able), march on the spot, rotate your arms or vigorously shake your hands for a minute or two.
  • Prise off the cap of the collection tube and place in the tube holder section of the protective packaging.
  • Soak your hands in a bowl of warm water for about two minutes (making sure it is not too hot), and dry them.

Step 1

Choose a finger. The ring or little finger on your non-dominant hand usually works best. Clean the finger with the alcohol swab.

Step 3

Wipe the first drop of blood away with the cleansing wipe. Massage from the palm of your hand to about halfway down your finger.

Step 5

Clean your finger with the cleansing wipe. Put a plaster on if needed. Discard wipes and unused plasters in household waste.

Step 7

Peel the sample label off the questionnaire and apply to tube, so that the numbers run along the length of your sample tube.

Step 9

Please record the date and time of the sample collection on the sticker on the return envelope.

Step 2

Remove the cap from the lancet. Place the lancet against the side of your fingertip. Press down firmly to pierce the skin.

Step 4

Let the blood run into the tube. Fill the tube up to the 0.5ml line (or as close as you can). If the blood stops, repeat the process with the second lancet on a different finger.

Step 6

Press cap until it clicks. Slowly turn the tube over and back 10 times, but do not shake it. This needs to be done as soon after the collection as possible.

Step 8

Please complete the printed questionnaire if you were unable to do it online. If you completed the online questionnaire, just write the sample collection date on the printed questionnaire.

Step 10

Enclose the tube and used lancets in their protective packaging. Close the clam shell lid. Seal the envelope, wipe the package and return it to us.


  • I’ve completed the online OR the paper questionnaire. I have put my paper questionnaire – even if I have only entered the collection date – in the return envelope.
  • I’ve put the sample label on my tube.
  • I’ve put my tube and lancets into the protective packaging. I have discarded any other leftover kit parts in my household waste.
  • I’ve completed the date and time of sample collection on the return label.
  • I’ve wiped the package.
  • It is important to send on the day of collection.

Posting your sample back to us

Please aim to post your sample in a post box and not over the counter at a Post Office. Currently, not all post boxes offer a daily pick up. If possible, please post your sample in a priority postbox. These are labelled with a priority postbox sticker. For more information, please visit https://www. If you are self-isolating, please ensure that someone else is able to post the packet for you.

Thank you

Last updated