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NTU study finds antibodies in 4 people in central Taiwan

National Taiwan University study finds 0.083% of Changhua residents have antibodies for coronavirus

NTUCPH Vice Dean Tony Chen.

NTUCPH Vice Dean Tony Chen. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The organizers of the mass testing for Wuhan coronavirus antibodies carried out on 10,000 residents of central Taiwan on Thursday (Aug. 27) announced that four high-risk individuals, or 0.083 percent of those tested, have been found to have antibodies for the Wuhan coronavirus.

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. According to the findings of the interim report released on Thursday, only four people out of the 4,841 tested so far have antibodies for COVID-19 in their bloodstream.

This translates into only 0.083 percent of high-risk subjects tested so far. Given that the positivity level is so low among high-risk individuals, the study's organizers have concluded that the Taiwanese general public's exposure to the virus has been very low.

The study tested for antibodies in the following high-risk groups: confirmed cases and their contacts, people undergoing home quarantine and self-health monitoring, medical workers, epidemic prevention staff, and first responders. Changhua County Public Health Bureau Director Yeh Yen-po (葉彥伯) pointed out that because the positivity rate for antibodies among the most vulnerable groups is very low, the general public is quite safe and does not need to be tested for antibodies.

Yeh said that Changhua's 18 confirmed coronavirus cases were all to found to have protective antibodies, even more than 100 days after being infected. He said this is a good sign that vaccines could have a protective effect.

He added that even though Changhua had one of the highest numbers of local cases and recorded the first death, the fact that there are so few people with antibodies indicates the risk of infection across the nation is quite low.

Summary of the findings:

  1. The persons screened were deemed high-risk if having been infected with coronavirus during the peak phase of the epidemic in Taiwan from February to March.
  2. The survey found that the infection rate among this target group was very low at 0.083 percent, indicating that the general community is at low risk for infection.
  3. All confirmed cases produced neutralizing antibodies. This means that future vaccines can potentially provide immunity against COVID-19.