Coronavirus: antibody tests now available for all Belgians

Coronavirus: antibody tests now available for all Belgians
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Everyone will be able to get tested for the presence of antibodies against the new coronavirus (Covid-19), Federal Minister for Public Health Maggie De Block announced on Friday.

These tests, called serological tests, analyse a blood sample to verify whether someone has been infected with the virus at an earlier time, by looking for the presence of antibodies in their blood.

"The presence of antibodies, however, does not mean that you are automatically immune to Covid-19, so it is essential that you continue to follow all precautionary measures, whether or not you have antibodies against the coronavirus," said De Block in a press release.

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A serological test is not the same as a PCR test. The latter is the most commonly used test to determine if a person is carrying the coronavirus at the time of testing, by taking a sample from the patient's nasal cavity and/or throat using a swab.

However, now that there are reliable serological tests, De Block wants to make them available widely. Every citizen can be tested, provided that the test is on Sciensano's list and that the analysis is carried out by an approved laboratory.

No further information on when or where these tests will be made available was provided, but people with symptoms wanting to get tested can contact their general practitioner.

For some target groups, the test will be fully reimbursed. For others, the bill will amount to a maximum of €9.60, De Block said. The Royal Decrees that determine the reimbursement modalities will soon be published in the Official Belgian Journal.

Update: More information on how to get tested for antibodies was provided on Saturday. Read more about it here.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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