Portugal to begin tests in Lisbon and Porto to show percentage of population that has been able to develop immunity to Coronavirus
THE first round of tests is being prepared to show the percentage of Portugal’s population that has already had ‘contact’ with the Coronavirus and has been able to develop some form of immunity. The aim will be to have initial results by the end of June, beginning of July.
As immunologists explain, there is still so much to find out: “We don’t know the number of antibodies that people produce, the quality of these antibodies that provide protection, the minimum needed for people to be protected and for how long immunity lasts,” said Helena Soares of CEDOC-NMS.
In other coronaviruses, people who have developed antibodies have an immunity that lasts for anything from three months to two years.
Portugal’s first round of Serology4Covid will take place over three weeks next month, and involve just over 2,000 people – 352 of them children under the age of 10.
Led by the national health institute Dr Ricardo Jorge (INSA), the ‘protocol’ to be followed is one drawn up by the World Health Organisation.
Further phases will take in health professionals as well as patients being treated for the virus in hospital.
Independently of Serology4Covid, testing of 700 nurses and medical orderlies in hospitals in Lisbon and Porto is going ahead from today (Monday), as is a study to discover antibodies in health professionals, care home workers and civil protection officers in the Algarve.
Mónica Bettencourt-Dias of the Gulbenkian Institute of Science – stressed that it is fundamental to understand the strength of immunity produced so that survivors can be given medical orientation. “For now we have to remain cautious,” she said. “There’s no room for complacency.”