Just 6% of Belgians have antibodies against COVID-19

A new test of 3,400 blood samples taken from Belgians of all age categories has found that 6% contain antibodies against COVID-19. This is double the percentage found to have antibodies in a previous test. One a large proportion of the population have become infected the epidemic could die down. However, the Antwerp University epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme told VRT News’ topical discussion programme ‘De afspraak’ that so-called “herd immunity” won’t provide a way out of the current public health crisis. A solution will have to be found elsewhere. 

Between the end of March and mid-April the number of Belgians that have developed antibodies against the novel coronavirus rose from 3% to 6%. The presence of antibodies in their blood mean that the person in question has already been infected with the virus and has become immune to it.

Professor Van Damme told ‘De afspraak’ that “Every three weeks we collect samples from two large laboratories in Wallonia, Brussels and Flanders. For the second round of research these were 3,400 blood samples from various age categories between 0 and 100 years. Three weeks after the first study we have seen a rise from 3 to 6 percent”.

The figure of 6 percent is a long way from so-called “herd immunity”. This would need at least half the population to have become infected. Professor Van Damme says that we cannot rely on this to bring the epidemic to an end here.

"This won’t happen. This avenue has been completely abandoned in the whole of Europe. It will have to happen in a different way”.