Over 5% of blood donors have coronavirus antibodies; vaccine needed

The percentage of blood donors in the Netherlands with antibodies against the coronavirus increased from 3 percent in April to about 5.5 percent now, according to a large-scale study by blood bank Sanquin. At this rate it will take some two years for the Dutch population to achieve herd immunity. "We need a vaccine," research leader Hans Zaaijer said to AD.

The researchers expected an increase, "because more donors have now been able to recover from an infection and have been able to donate afterwards," Zaaijer said to NU.nl. But the increase was relatively small. "This is in line with what the national institute for public health and the environment [RIVM] showed about the decreasing spread of infection. The lockdown measures are effective, resulting in fewer people being infected."

To achieve herd immunity against the coronavirus, at least 60 percent of the population will have to be recovered from the virus and have antibodies against it. At this rate, that could take another two years, Zaaijer thinks. 

Sanquin tested seven thousand blood donors' blood for antibodies against the coronavirus between May 10 and 20. As only donors were tested, this study is not entirely representative of the Dutch population.