Israel Launches Antibody Testing to Determine Scope of Coronavirus Infection

After a delay of several weeks, random nationwide coronavirus antibody testing started on Monday in 191 communities in Israel, including 13 virus hot spots, as the government attempts to get a full picture of the outbreak.

Unlike swab tests, which are designed to diagnose patients currently infected, antibody testing should be able to show how far the virus has spread within the general population, whether or not those that have contracted it have developed symptoms.

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It will also provide further data to determine how much specific groups, including children and people with underlying medical conditions, have been infected, the degree to which they may have developed a measure of immunity to the virus and the extent to which they may have infected others.

The program will last several days, during which 75,000 tests will be carried out at health maintenance organization community clinics around the country. Designed by the Health Ministry, it is meant to be random in order to obtain a representative sample based on geographic location, size, socio-economic status and ethnic or religious background.