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"Soon” everyone will be able to get themselves tested for coronavirus anti-bodies

Although she was not specific about the exact timing, the Federal Health Minister Maggie De Block (Flemish liberal) has said that “soon” anyone that wishes to will be able to ask their GP to test them for anti-bodies against the novel coronavirus. 

Speaking on VRT radio the virologist Steven Van Gucht said “The GP will take a blood sample and the sample will be sent to a lab”. The test can also be used as a means to diagnose COVID-19 infection instead of or in addition to a test using a nasopharyngeal swab.

Professor Van Gucht explained that blood testing is used to diagnose COVID-19 when people go to their GP or to hospital after having had symptoms for some time. In these cases a nasopharyngeal test can sometimes prove negative even though the patient has become infected.

Those wishing to be tested simply because they are curious to know whether they have being infected by the virus in the past without realising will have to pay for it out of their own pocket. A test costs around 10 euro.

Professor Van Gucht adds that “If you ask for a test without really having any symptoms there is a very big chance that the test will be negative. In 94% of cases the test result will be negative.  

But what if you are shown to have anti-bodies? Are you then immune? “We can’t guarantee this. It only shows that you have been infected in the past. We presume that these people will have built up a certain form of immunity and there will probably be more resistant to the virus. Maybe they could contracted again but the consequences will be less serious. However, we are not yet really sure of this”.

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