Population (Antibody) Testing for COVID-19-Technical Challenges, Application and Relevance, an English Perspective.

Peter A C Maple


In the UK, population virus or antibody testing using virus swabs, serum samples, blood spots or oral fluids has been performed to a limited extent for several diseases including measles, mumps, rubella and hepatitis and HIV. The collection of population-based infection and immunity data is key to the monitoring of disease prevalence and assessing the effectiveness of interventions such as behavioural modifications and vaccination. In particular, the biological properties of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its interaction with the human host have presented several challenges towards the development of population-based immunity testing. Measuring SARS-CoV-2 immunity requires the development of antibody assays of acceptable sensitivity and specificity which are capable of accurately detecting seroprevalence and differentiating protection from non-protective responses. Now that anti-COVID-19 vaccines are becoming available there is a pressing need to measure vaccine efficacy and the development of herd immunity. The unprecedented impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in the UK in terms of morbidity, mortality, and economic and social disruption has mobilized a national scientific effort to learn more a...Continue Reading


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