Surveys from Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States have found antibodies in people not previously diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, suggesting more people were infected with the virus responsible for the global pandemic than previously known.
But many of the studies have sparked significant controversy, with experts raising concerns about the accuracy of antibody testing methods, how well the surveyed subjects represented the population and questions over how much antibodies protected against Covid-19, according to a report in Science Magazine.
While some specialists said higher numbers of unconfirmed infections – based on the presence of antibodies – reinforced the need for strict physical-distancing measures, others suggested it could allow for some easing of lockdown measures because there was progress towards herd immunity, or resistance among the general population to the disease.
German virologist Hendrik Streeck, from the University of Bonn, carried out a study this month in Heinsberg, which is an epicentre of the virus in Germany under strict lockdown. Streeck’s study found that 14 per cent of 500 people had antibodies to the virus.