Germany to launch Europe’s first antibody testing programme

Thousands of infected people have also signed up for UK's Covid-19 study

Germany is launching Europe’s first antibody testing programme.

Its national disease control centre plans to conduct a series of blood tests to determine how many people in the nation are immune to Covid-19 and how many were infected without knowing it.

Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute, says starting next week antibody tests will be carried out on blood given by donors around the country.

His institute anticipates testing up to 5,000 samples conducted every 14 days, with results starting in early May.

A second survey will examine blood from about 2,000 people from each of four infection “hot spots” in Germany. And a third will look at a representative sample of some 15,000 people across the country, with results expected in June.

Germany has already emerged as a leader in testing for coronavirus itself, carrying out up to 100,000 tests per day

It has confirmed more than 113,000 infections, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

More than 2,300 people have died, a death rate lower than many countries.

In the UK, more than 2,700 infected people have signed up to take part in a trial called Recovery as the country races to find a vaccine.
Peter Horby, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Oxford, said no controlled clinical trial had ever expanded so quickly and on such a large scale.

"We need to recruit very fast while the epidemic is approaching its peak, so that we have enough patients to provide firm data," he told the Financial Times.

More than 100 hospitals are taking part and volunteers diagnosed with the virus are split into four groups, three are given one of the trial treatments and a fourth receives standard medical care.
Oxford University has also put out a call for hundreds of volunteers to test a possible new coronavirus vaccine.

It is recruiting 500 people to take part in clinical trials.

Volunteers need to be healthy and aged between 18-55.

The project, which is being run by the Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group, is expected to last six months.

 

Last week, Oxford University announced that three of their Covid-19 projects were among the first to receive a tranche of £20 million in government funding.

“The three projects include work on an effective vaccine, enabling pre-clinical and clinical vaccine trials, as well as supporting researchers to develop manufacturing processes to produce a vaccine at a million-dose scale," it said in statement.

"Another project will examine how existing treatments could be repurposed to treat coronavirus.”

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