Czechs will test 27,000 citizens to determine antibodies to coronavirus

The Czech Republic will screen 27,000 people for coronavirus antibodies to find out how many have come into contact with the infection, officials said on Tuesday.

The research, larger than those done in recent weeks in European countries and the United States, will begin on Wednesday and include all age groups.

Czechs will test 27,000 citizens to determine antibodies to coronavirus, According to Institute of Health Information and Statistics Director Ladislav Dusek, four regions were selected, from areas that were little affected by the virus to those strongly affected.

Tests, anticipated at the beginning of May, would give the government a better picture of how many asymptomatic cases may have occurred and help to make decisions on further steps.

“This research will be a significant lead for us. The higher the performance in this respect the more optimistic the situation will be,” Health Minister Adam Vojtech told a news conference.

In the Czech Republic, a country of 10.7 million, the pandemic has been less severe than most western European countries, following the early adoption of strict measures such as shop and school closures, a ban on most foreign travel and the mandatory use of face masks in public.

The government was under pressure to accelerate the easing of the measures.

Unlike tests to recognize current diseases, the study would use rapid antibody tests to indicate whether people have been previously infected. People who test positive will be given a swab test to see whether they still have the virus.

Deputy Minister of Health Roman Prymula said he was expecting the report to show the percentage of the population carrying antibodies is in single digits. That would mean that the country did not achieve widespread “herd immunity”

The Czech Republic recorded 6,914 cases and 196 fatalities. 178,617 tests were done.

A study of 863 people of the United States’ Los Angeles County showed 4.1 per cent of adults tested positive for antibodies, suggesting that the rate of infection may be 40 times greater than the number of confirmed cases.

A survey of more than 1,500 people in Austria found that at the beginning of April fewer than 1 per cent were already contaminated.

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