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Saliva self-sampling screening at ULB

Published on March 25, 2021 Updated on November 9, 2021

Saliva tests resume as of 15 November! These tests can be carried out every week, free of charge and on a voluntary basis on the ULB campuses.


Screening run-though

The saliva sampling screening is carried out weekly, free of charge, on a voluntary basis.
Who can take part in ULB’s screening programme?

Staff members and students can take part in the Covid-19 screening free of charge. It is not recommended to come to one of the campuses to get a saliva testing kit if you do not have to be present on site.

Why is ULB testing its personnel and students?
  • Screening is a useful tool for internal management of the epidemic.
  • It is also a service offered to every student and staff member
Is saliva self-sampling as reliable as nasopharyngeal swabs?
  • Saliva sampling is less sensitive than nasopharyngeal swabs, with 65% sensitivity, as opposed to 80% for the swabs.
  • However, saliva is reliable for detecting a contaminating person, considering that contamination occurs mainly by saliva projection.
  • Furthermore, for people who are heavily infected with the virus, the sensitivity of saliva is 80%.
  • In the context of managing the pandemic, many scientists are now recommending simpler methods that can allow many more people to be tested more frequently. Saliva testing is proving to be an effective solution. The risk of false negatives exists, but is partly compensated for by the number of tests and the fact that they are repeated regularly.

Note: In large groups, saliva tests can detect more cases than swabs despite their lower sensitivity. 

For example...

Assuming a 1% incidence:

  • Salivary tests: if all members of our University community, students and staff combined (30,000 people), were to be tested, we would detect 195 positive cases given the sensitivity of the saliva test. This operation can be carried out very regularly.
  • Swabs: if we were able to test 10,000 people in our community every week by means of a swab test, a difficult target as there are currently around 25,000 swabs taken every day in the whole of Belgium, we would detect 80 positive cases.

The saliva self-sampling, like the nasopharyngeal swab, must be subjected to a PCR analysis in a laboratory, which is the standard method for detecting a coronavirus infection. Therefore, it is not a self-test that would directly deliver a result in a few minutes, but a self-sample for which the result will be known at most 24 hours after the submission of the sample ( barring any technical problems).

Will we test positive at ULB?
  • Statistically, yes, we will discover several dozens of positive cases every week. This is normal and expected given the likely incidence rate within our community (and society in general).
  • More than the absolute number of positive cases discovered each week, it is the evolution of the weekly percentages as the testing campaigns progress that we must pay attention to. It is with these numbers that we will be able to see whether the rates remain globally stable, decrease or increase.
Is "100%" participation necessary for the testing to be effective?
  • No, it is not. However, it is very important that everyone adheres to this citizen gesture. Getting tested is not only an act of taking care of yourself but also of taking care of others.
  • Even if your result is negative from week to week, continue to participate in this testing campaign. It's a small individual effort for maximum collective comfort!

How can I get a self-collection kit and register my sample? 

How and where can I get a self-sampling kit?

Each student and staff member who needs to be present on-site are encouraged to pick up a self-testing kit at one of the distribution points each week. Your ULB card must be presented spontaneously when you pick up the kit.

Where and when will the kits be distributed?

Two distribution and collection centres are set up in two campuses:

  • Solbosch campus: F1 building - in the ULB Sport unit, between the two restaurants
  • Plaine campus: CAL building - Secular Action Center entry hall
  • Erasme campus: A building - Public Health School entry hall
  • Flagey campus: Place Flagey, 19 - Architectural building entry hall / matériauthèque

Opening hours: 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM every Monday and Thursday (except for the Flagey campus, from 8.30 AM).

How can I register my sample?

From 31 May 2021, in order to obtain their results, staff and students will have to register each sample electronically via an e-form. The registration must take place before the sample is deposited at the collection site. No results can be issued for samples that are not or incorrectly registered. 

When registering a sample, you will be asked to enter a "statistical group code" that identifies your institution and provides some anonymous information (e.g. whether the person is a staff member or a student, whether the person is located in location A or location B, etc.). This code will not identify the person (statistical groups contain a minimum of 15 persons) but will allow statistical reporting at the level of the institution. This code is 16 digits long and is valid until the end of the current academic year.

Get your statistical code

Registration e-form


Self-sampling Test Kit: Instructions for Use

How do I carry out my self-sampling test?

Watch this video tutorial

  • You have to take your sample when you wake up, BEFORE EATING, DRINKING OR BRUSHING YOUR TEETH, on the day you wish to submit your test.
  • Open the box containing the different parts of the kit. The different steps of the self-collection procedure are explained in the pictures on the box. You can also scan the QR code printed on the box to watch a video tutorial, or watch it above.
  • Then take your sample.
  • Follow each step carefully. Each step is essential to ensuring the quality of the test.
  • Do not lose the tab with the barcode number of your sample on it. As a precaution, it is a good idea to take a photo of it. You will need it to get your result.
  • It is imperative that you return your tube on the same day you collect your sample!

Bring back your sample before 1:30 PM at the collection centre of your choice. When you drop off your sample, you can pick up a test kit. This kit should be returned the following week for further analysis.

What precautions should be taken when using and storing the self-test kit?
  • Do not drink, touch or extract the reagent.
  • In case of contact with the skin, immediately wash the area with soap and water. ln case of contact with the eyes, rinse immediately with water. Consult a medical professional if irritation persists.
  • Do not use if the product is visibly damaged.
  • Do not open the tube after taking the sample.
  • Keep out of reach of children

Attention: The chemical agent used can react with sodium hypochlorite (bleach) or other strong acids and bases. These mixtures could release noxious gases.

The product should be transported and stored intact in its packaging between 15°C and 25°C until use. Once the sample has been taken, the tube can be stored for a maximum of 12 hours between 15°C and 25°C before being returned to one of the collection points.

What should I do if my test kit is incomplete or defective?

Incomplete (one or more parts are missing from the kit box) or defective (unusable parts) self-sampling kits must be returned and exchanged for a new test kit. This exchange can take place at any kit distribution point. 


Getting the test result

How will I get my test result?
  • The results of the analysis of your sample are usually available within 24-48 hours of your sample being deposited.
  • You will receive your result, provided that your sample has been correctly registered (see above):
    • by SMS
      As soon as the analyses are completed, the result of your sample will be sent to you by SMS
    • or by consulting the secure website of the Walloon and Brussels health networks after identification using the electronic identity card (eID or ItsMe)
    • or by consulting the online platform masante.belgique.be, also known as Personal Health Viewer. This platform also requires personal identification via the electronic identity card (eID or ItsMe).
  • Your number will be associated with a negative, positive or uninterpretable result.
What should I do if my test comes back negative?
  • Continue to observe recommended preventive measures (social distancing, etc.). It is crucial we remain cautious.
  • Take a new test the following week. Regularly consult this link to check the days and locations for the kit collection and sample drop off points.
  • ATTENTION: If you develop even mild symptoms potentially attributable to COVID-19, even if you have recently received a negative result, you should isolate yourself and phone your doctor without waiting for the next saliva test.

A negative result means that the screening test that ULB carried out on your sample wasn’t able to detect evidence of the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is responsible for COVID-19. Because of the reduced sensitivity of the saliva tests, your result could be a false negative. You should, therefore, remain vigilant and continue to respect social distancing and barrier gestures.

What should I do if my test comes back positive?
  • Notify it immediately at covid@ulb.be
  • Isolate yourself respect the measures applicable to those who have tested positive for COVID-19. Keep the original barcode from your test, as you will be asked to provide it.
  • Follow the instructions that appear on the results screen.
What should I do if my results are inconclusive?
  • If your results are inconclusive, continue to respect social distancing and barrier gestures.
  • Take a new test the following week. Regularly consult this link ANCRE!!!!! to check the days and locations for the kit collection and sample drop off points.
  • ATTENTION: If you develop even mild symptoms potentially attributable to COVID-19, even if you have recently received a negative result, you should isolate yourself and phone your doctor without waiting for the next saliva test.
Why are certain results inconclusive?

The technology used to carry out the screening tests can generate inconclusive results: this means that the results obtained do not allow us to determine if your sample tested negative or positive.