Israel’s national health-maintenance organizations will soon begin testing the blood of 100,000 citizens, as well as healthcare workers, for Covid-19 antibodies.
The sampling will provide insights into how widely the novel coronavirus has spread, how quickly restrictions can be eased, and whether Israelis have sufficient “herd immunity” against a second outbreak.
“This is the most important mission: Get ready for the next wave, especially a wave during wintertime,” when flu season will also begin, Ministry of Health Director General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov told the New York Times.
Although nobody knows if antibodies against Covid-19 will protect against reinfection – especially if the virus mutates – the Health Ministry said the data will help in preparing the healthcare system and planning for the future.
According to Ynet, antibody testing in the Czech Republic revealed that only about 4% of population has them. An Israeli Health Ministry official told Ynet that he guesses no more than 10% of citizens have been exposed to the virus.
Israelis who agree to the antibody test will fill out questionnaires to give authorities more information about each person’s exposure to the novel coronavirus. Those shown to have Covid-19 antibodies will also be retested for the virus.
As of May 6, new cases were diminishing across most of Israel. The country of 9.19 million citizens confirmed 16,314 cases and 238 deaths from Covid-19.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on May 5 that Israel is pledging $60 million toward international efforts to improve diagnostics, find treatments and develop a vaccine against Covid-19.
“I am confident that Israel’s leading research institutions, its world-renowned scientists and our unique culture of innovation can enable us to play an important role in advancing solutions on all three fronts,” he said.