Collective immunity testing launched in the Czech Republic

Collective immunity testing launched in the Czech Republic source: Profimedia

The Czech Republic has launched the collective immunity testing in regions of Prague, Brno and Olomouc. The purpose of the project is to determine the percentage of population exposed to the coronavirus and how many people created immunity. Based on results, the government will implement next steps in lifting restrictions.

Blanket testing for collective immunity in the Czech Republic has begun on Thursday, April 23. The purpose of the study is to determine the rate of contact of a population with COVID-19. The results will show not only the approximate percentage of population which has already been exposed to the coronavirus and created antibodies, but also which groups of population and in what regions has created immunity and to what degree. The results of the study will therefore show how many people suffer from serious coronavirus related health problems and how many people show no symptoms.

Based on results, the government will modify the next stages of lifting restrictions and will prepare the following plan for return to the normal daily lifestyle.

When and where to get tested

Blanket testing will not be based on previously selected group of people, as was initially intended, but the testing will be available for anyone from the public, more or less. Sampling tents follow different opening hours in each region. Since April 23, they are opened from 10:00 in Prague and from 8:00 in Brno and Litoměřice. In Olomouc Region, testing begins on April 24 at 8:00. It is to be noted that the time from 8:00 to 10:00 is primarily reserved for people above 60 years of age. It is not possible to register or make an appointment for testing in advance. The study will take place from April to May 2020, and the actual testing will take approximately two weeks - until a sufficient number of samples will be taken from all required demographic groups.

Testing will be performed namely in these areas:

  • Prague (10:00-20:00)
  • Brno and its surroundings (8:00-18:00)
  • Olomouc and its surroundings (8:00-18:00)
  • Litoměřice (8:00-18:00)
  • Litovel (8:00-18:00)
  • Uničov (8:00-18:00)

The Ministry of Health has published a list of places where people can attend testing in the given areas. However, the website with instructions is available only in Czech at this moment.

Who can participate in the study

Those who want to participate in the study for COVID-19 antibodies presence in a body have to pass certain criteria, which are set by ÚZIS (Institute of Health Information and Statistics):

  • Age from 18 to 89 years
  • Age from 8 to 17 years (only in the areas of Prague and Brno and its surroundings)
  • No acute health problems typical for COVID-19
  • No elevated temperature
  • No confirmed diagnosis for COVID-19
  • Permanent / temporary residence in the Czech Republic

What is testing procedure

The applicant for testing has to prove himself / herself with a health insurance card or another proof of identity. The steps of testing procedure are following:

  1. Body temperature measurement
  2. Providing information about the project to an applicant and answering any of his / her questions
  3. Completion and signing of Informed Consent and Consent to the processing of personal data
  4. Filling in a short questionnaire
  5. Collection of capillary blood from a finger. Venous blood will be collected in Olomouc, Livovel and Uničov
  6. The test for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 virus via the so-called Rapid-test. The result will be known within approximately 20 minutes
  7. Communication of the test result

If doctors detect the presence of antibodies in the tested subject, they will immediately take a sample of biological material from nasopharynx for PCR examination to confirm whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus is still present in the body.

The testing itself will be done under condition of the tested subject’s express consent for the participation in the study. ÚZIS will specify every day which demographic categories of people are still needed for the complex examination, or which groups, on the other hand, do not have to come because there are already enough samples for the analysis. According to unconfirmed claims from citizens, some sampling tents have already reached the intended sample goal as many volunteers applied for testing already the first day. However, the capacity may still change and increase.

According to the Ministry of Health, it was not possible to perform blanket testing of population before, for example already in the initial stage of the epidemic. It was necessary to wait for a sufficient testing capacity in population to be present, otherwise results would provide no relevant data with no people who undergone the disease nor created immunity.