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Antibody tests create picture of Covid-19 in Jersey

08 May 2020

Coronavirus: antibody testing kits

The Minister for Health and Social Services has said antibody test results from a survey of randomly selected Islanders will be invaluable in shaping how Jersey responds to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Data published by Statistics Jersey today shows that there have been an estimated 3,300 cases of Covid-19 in Jersey.

The Government of Jersey surveyed a random sample of Islanders, using Healgen antibody tests, between Saturday 2 May and Tuesday 5 May, to assess the level of infection across the Island. A total of 438 households responded to the survey – 63% of the 700 addresses contacted.

Islanders underwent a finger-prick blood test and received their results ten minutes later. The data was then anonymised and passed onto Statistics Jersey for analysis.

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, said: "I would like to thank Islanders who took part in the survey, the healthcare workers, who carried out the antibody tests, and Statistics Jersey for their detailed work. It has created a helpful picture of how Covid-19 has spread through our community. It is estimated that about 3,300 Islanders have been infected to date.

"The fact that only a small proportion of the Island population has been infected shows that we have been successful so far in containing the outbreak.

"This data will help us to decide how and when to safely lift restrictions. The low levels of infection to date show that a significant proportion of Islanders remain at risk of infection. Therefore, it is important that we do not rush into easing lockdown fully, but base our decisions on continued, detailed analysis. We are planning further antibody testing in the weeks to come so we can create a fuller picture of how the virus is moving through the Island.

"The Government has also committed to increasing the number of Covid-19 tests, which detect whether someone is currently infected with coronavirus, to 500 a day. Both this diagnostic test, and the antibody test, are essential in ensuring that we have the fullest, most up-to-date information. It is this information which will allow us to decide how best to continue responding to the coronavirus pandemic."

Dr Ivan Muscat, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control said: "There is currently no evidence to show what level, or length, of immunity this antibody test identifies, but this study is not trying to detect immunity. It is aiming to detect antibodies in order to indicate the level of infection in Jersey up to 24 April.

"The level of implied infection shown by these initial antibody tests is in line with the ongoing modelling work, and it shows that the assumption that one positive test result is likely to equate to ten actual cases appears to be reasonable."

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