About 4.3% of Belgians have developed antibodies to the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19), and are probably immune, according to a study conducted by the Belgian health institute, Sciensano, together with the Flemish Red Cross and the Blood Service, and published on Saturday.
“Through this study we wish to ascertain the percentage of the healthy population infected by the virus,” Sciensano immunologist Isabelle Desombere explained. “In combination with other epidemiological data currently recorded by Sciensano, the results will provide a better view of the number of Belgians who have probably contracted Covid-19 and have thereby possibly become immune.”
The study is based on blood samples collected in Flanders on 30 March and 14 April, and from 14 to 16 April in Brussels in Wallonia, according to Sciensano, which said the samples were representative of the active population in Belgium.
The researchers found that the presence of antibodies in the blood, which means probable immunity to Covid-19, had doubled in two weeks: from 2.1% in samples taken in Flanders on 30 March, it went up to 4.1% in those taken on 14 April.
Overall, about 4.3% of the population developed antibodies to Covid-19, with little difference between Wallonia, Brussels and Flanders, according to the study, which concluded that collective immunity was developing slowly but surely, although, for now, it was still low.
“Since, for this study, we only tested blood samples from people who did not show any Covid-19 symptoms in the preceding weeks, the percentage of the population that has developed antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 has probably increased,” Dr. Desombere said.