Few Koreans Test Positive for Coronavirus Antibodies

  • By Yang Ji-ho

    July 10, 2020 13:29

    Only one out of 3,055 people shows coronavirus antibodies in a first unrepresentative test program here.

    The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday announced the outcome of the first antibody blood test conducted since the outbreak started here on Jan. 20.

    Antibody tests can determine if patients had coronavirus in the past, whether or not they had symptoms, but the tests have not been perfected and it is not clear if antibodies confer complete immunity.

    Lee Hyuk-min of the Korean Society for Laboratory Medicine said, "The immunity of most patients of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrom) that was rampant in 2003 faded in about a year."

    According to the current state of testing, the proportion of people with coronavirus antibodies here is lower than in New York (21.2 percent), London (17 percent), Wuhan (3.2 percent), and Tokyo (0.1 percent).

    But the low proportion is probably due to the small scale of testing, KCDC officials said. No samples at all were collected in Daegu where a whopping 52 percent or 6,926 of all total domestic infections occurred. Health authorities admit that the figures do not reveal much at the moment.

    Kwon Joon-wook, the deputy chief of the KCDC, said, "In a meeting on Wednesday, experts concluded that the antibody testing is unrepresentative because samples weren't collected from places like Daegu where group infections occurred."

    The KCDC vowed to conduct additional antibody testing of 10,000 people including Daegu citizens from this month.

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