2020-09-09

HZI nationwide coronavirus antibody study comes to Aachen

Seroprevalence study investigates actual spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the population

Many SARS-coronavirus-2 infections are mild or completely asymptomatic and are therefore not detected. This makes it difficult to assess pandemic trends, prevention strategies and mortality rates. Antibody studies can provide reliable information on what percentage of the population has already been infected with SARS-CoV-2. In a nationwide study, the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig is using regional samples to investigate the spread of antibodies against the novel coronavirus. The study examines about 3000 test persons in the urban region of Aachen from 9th September 2020.

Hand with purple glove holds two blood samples©Pixabay/Belova59 The actual spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is only partially recorded by official statistics. In order to gain a better overview of the infection process, a nationwide antibody study has been running at the HZI since July. The MuSPAD project (Multi-local and Serial cross-sectional Prevalence Study on Antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in Germany) investigates the immune status of the population in ten selected regions. The blood samples of about 3000 volunteers are analysed for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Participants are also interviewed to determine risk and protective factors of infection. The findings act as a foundation for strategies to further contain the pandemic. Prof Gérard Krause, head of the Department of Epidemiology at the HZI, coordinates the study.

The subjects of the study are selected and invited at random. Voluntary participation without prior invitation is unfortunately not possible in order to ensure the representativeness of the study. In carrying out the study, the HZI is supported by the district of Aachen, the City of Aachen and Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe. The district of Aachen is the third study location. Previously, the MuSPAD study had already made stops in Reutlingen and Freiburg.

“By conducting surveys in the same cities at different points in time, we can capture the development over time at population level, an increase as well as a decrease - both very important results for assessing the pandemic,” says study coordinator Krause. In Aachen, the second round of testing is expected to take place in January and February 2021.

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