German authorities are considering the possibility of mass-testing its population for COVID-19 antibodies, German magazine Der Der Spiegel reported. The presence of such antibodies in a person's organism would mean that they had been infected by the novel coronavirus and then cured, gaining immunity to the disease in the process.
The project, if it gets the green light from authorities, will be led by epidemiologist Gerard Krause from the Helmholz Centre for Infection Research, the magazine reported. According to Der Spiegel, some 100,000 people could be tested in April with results coming by the end of the month.
Those who test positive for antibodies will be marked as immune, thus helping the government to paint a more accurate picture of the outbreak's scale, affected areas ,and to determine, which German citizens or even regions can be exempted from quarantines, the media outlet noted. Essentially the measure, if it gets approved, might speed up the lifting of the quarantine and the revival of the nation's economy.
"Those with immunity could be issued with a type of immune-certificate that could, for example, allow them to be exempt from the restrictions on their activities", the head of the suggested project, Gerard Krause told Der Spiegel.
Still, antibodies tests sometimes come back as false positive, reacting to antibodies for other types of coronaviruses, which most of the population is already immune to, unlike COVID-19. The scientists are reportedly working on eradicating this flaw right now.
As of March 30 some 57,298 people have been infected with COVID-19 and 455 died of it in Germany, according to data provided by the Health Ministry. This places the country third in Europe in terms of the number of confirmed cases after Italy and Spain.