Dutch blood bank to test a million people for coronavirus

Sanquin ordered a million new test kits to test for coronavirus antibodies in blood- and plasma donors, the Dutch blood bank announced after a working visit from Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health and coronavirus envoy Feike Sijbesma on Tuesday. The tests produced by Chinese company Wantai were ordered by Sanquin, paid for by the Ministry of Public Health, and are available immediately, a Sanquin spokesperson confirmed to Nu.nl reports.

Sanquin is currently working with health institute RIVM to investigate the spread of the coronavirus, and the Dutch population's immunity against it. Last month the blood bank released the preliminary results of the first study of 7,500 donors. It showed that 3 percent of the Dutch population had antibodies against Covid-19, which means they had been infected with the coronavirus.

The first half of Snaquin's research showed that the Wantai tests produced good results, the organization said. These tests are extra useful because they can detect three different antibodies. 

Sanquin will repeat the antibody tests on blood and plasma donors on a regular basis, to track the spread of the coronavirus and the immunity against it in the Netherlands. Next week 7,500 donors will be tested, the spokesperson said to NU.nl. Sanquin can scale up the number of antibody tests to 10 thousand tests per day if necessary, he said. 

"This is a repeat study. There are no conclusive agreements about how long it will continue. For the time being, we will keep going until it is no longer necessary," the spokesperson said. The 1 million new tests will allow the organization to test for "months ahead", he said. 

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