TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The organizers of the mass testing for Wuhan coronavirus antibodies carried out on 10,000 residents of western Taiwan will finally announce the results on Thursday (Aug. 27), two days after the originally scheduled press conference which had been inexplicably scuttled at the last minute.
Since June 11, National Taiwan University's College of Public Health (NTUCPH) has been collaborating with the Changhua County Public Health Bureau on a survey of residents in an effort to test 10,000 people for serum antibodies against COVID-19. The subjects tested thus far include confirmed cases and their contacts, people undergoing home quarantine and self-health monitoring, and a control group.
The testing has led to much controversy because the preliminary findings of the study revealed that a number of people in each group have tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, including protective neutralizing antibodies. At a press conference on Aug. 8, NTUCPH Vice Dean Tony Chen (陳秀熙) announced that 3,000 had been tested so far, some of whom had been found to have antibodies.
Chen stated that members of all four risk groups tested have been found to have antibodies in their bloodstream. Chen said that the study not only implements rapid screening for antibodies but also confirms the presence of neutralizing antibodies such as the NT antibody.
The results of the tests were originally scheduled to be announced on Tuesday (Aug. 25). However, former NTUCPH Dean and lead researcher for the project Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) told Taiwan News on Sunday evening (Aug. 23) that the press briefing on the study's interim findings has been suspended due to insufficient administrative work.
During a press conference on Monday (Aug. 24), CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said he had been informed of the cancelation by Changhua County Public Health Bureau Director Yeh Yen-po (葉彥伯). Chuang then noted that the matter has received a great deal of attention in society and said there should be an official explanation as to why the results of the study are not being announced.
At a press conference at noon on Wednesday (Aug. 26), the dean and vice dean of NTUCPH emphasized that the results will be announced in a "service-oriented" manner as soon as possible for public supervision. They said that a press conference will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday in Taipei to announce how many people in Changhua were found to have the COVID-19 nucleoprotein antibodies, spike protein antibodies, and neutralizing antibodies, as well as reaction intensity assessment results, reported CNA.
The interview notice also mentioned that the serum survey results of overseas and local cases in the study group will be compared and analyzed. Regarding questions about whether the serum antibody survey had been reviewed by the Institutional Review Board (IRB), Chen emphasized that "everything was done in accordance with the procedures."