Tartu University study shows a wider spread of coronavirus than expected ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Coronavirus tests.
Coronavirus tests. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The initial results of a study conducted by Tartu University that covered developed antibodies in Saaremaa and Õismäe indicate that the virus actually spread further than official statistics show.

"Based on the initial results of our study, we can say that there is a large number of people who have not been infected and have not had contact with anyone that is infected, but still give a positive result on an antibody test. This shows that the person has actually had contact with the coronavirus," said Piia Jõgi, Tartu University lecturer in paediatrics and head of the work group behind the study at KoroSero-EST.

Jõgi said that final conclusions can not be made yet because there were a lot more people in some regions participating in the test than expected and because some age groups are still not analysed. "What we can say is that based on antibodies, the spread of infection is wider than state statistics show us based on PCR-analyses. In addition, patients in Kuressaare family doctor center have more cases of COVID-19 antibodies than patients in Järveotsa, Õismäe."

Jõgi said that the presence of antibodies indicates that there is a probable immunity that has developed, but the length of how long antibodies or the immunity lasts, is still not known.

Currently, there are more than 2,400 people invited to participate in the study. 900 people from Järveotsa, Õismäe and around 400 people from Kuressaare, Saaremaa have agreed to participate. Based on the random sample provided by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa), people from all age groups are included in the study.

While participation in the study is voluntary, if someone gets an invite, it should not be taken lightly, Jõgi said. It is a simple process and confirming your participation can be done over the internet. A blood sample has to be given at the family doctor center however.

"Calls to participate in the study are done by staff at the family doctor center, who generally know the people well. This is how in the process of taking a blood sample we can get additional checks and information," Jõgi explained, adding that participants in the study have been satisfied with the process.

Tartu University conducts a study on the spread of COVID-19, during which spread of infection and the course of the pandemic in Estonia is assessed. Based on random samples, 16,000 - 20,000 people will be tested to give the government scientific basis to gradually exit the emergency situation.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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