Italy plans to conduct antibody tests on 150,000 persons in its 20 regions, under a nationwide campaign beginning on 4 May, with a view to finding out more about the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19), Government Commissioner Domenico Arcuri announced on Saturday.
“We are going to distribute the tests to the regions based on population” and other criteria set mainly by the National Institute of Statistics, Arcuri, who is charge of managing the Covid-19 crisis in Italy, told journalists.
The pandemic has already caused about 26,000 deaths in Italy, over half of them – 13,100 – in Lombardy.
No test is 100% reliable, said Arcuri, adding that the company whose antibody tests had been selected would provide them free of charge and that their results were 95% correct.
Antibody tests began this week in the worst hit region, Lombardy.
Such tests enable the detection of Covid-19 antibodies in the population and can possibly indicate whether someone is immune to reinfection, even if, for the moment, this is still a hypothesis.
Arcuri also announced that the Italian government would set a maximum price for protective masks, which the population will be called upon to wear as deconfinement, scheduled to start on 4 May, progresses.
The masks were now being distributed to public servants, security forces, public transport workers, and nursing home staff. Before that, priority was given to hospitals and other medical establishments.
Arcuri expressed satisfaction at the way Italians have complied with the lockdown begun on 9 March and noted that there were now twice as many artificial ventilators in Italian hospitals as patients in intensive care units.