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‘One in three already infected’: Switzerland pushes for free antibody testing

'One in three already infected': Switzerland pushes for free antibody testing
(Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP)
Swiss authorities are pushing for widespread antibody testing as a way of returning to normal, after it emerged that one third of Swiss have contracted the coronavirus.

Nearly three million people in Switzerland have contracted Covid-19, a new study has found.  

“Serological studies conducted last November found that about 20 percent of the population had Covid-19 antibodies,” the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) told Switzerland’s NZZ newspaper. 

Since November, an additional 10 percent had tested positive, altogether adding up to one-third of the population since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. 

However, the real number is likely higher as many people might have been infected without knowing it — for instance, those who had no symptoms were not tested and are not included in the statistics.

In order to determine how many people have had the virus, Swiss authorities are pushing for widespread antibody testing. 

Didier Trono, head of the Diagnostics and Testing expert group of the scientific Covid Taskforce, told 20 Minutes that the government should invest in antibody testing to allow for a more comprehensive relaxation of the measures. 

“So far, politics and authorities have paid far too little attention to this topic,” says Trono.

“We should now conduct a nationwide study as soon as possible to find out which are the most reliable substitute markers for protective immunity,” he said. 

READ MORE: How Switzerland’s strict immigration policy might have contributed to slow vaccination rollout

“This could serve as the basis for immunity passports, in which the protective immunity as a result of a recent infection could also be documented”.

Andreas Widmer, infectiologist and president of the national centre for infection prevention Swissnoso, agreed:

“Now a reliable antibody test should be developed and validated as quickly as possible in order to prove a survived infection as precisely as possible.”

This could also ensure that the vaccination campaign was targeted at those who really need it. 

“According to the current state of knowledge, even those who have recovered are relatively well protected for three to six months. So you could wait in line for the vaccination so that more vaccine would be available for people who have not yet become infected. “


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