RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment has launched a large-scale study to investigate how many people have antibodies for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Invitations to take part in the study will be sent to 6,000 people from all over the country and from all age groups. In the coming months, RIVM will measure antibodies in the blood in several rounds of research. With the results, RIVM aims to learn more about the spread of the coronavirus and about the development of herd immunity in all age groups.
Everyone who has been in contact with the coronavirus will generate antibodies. By measuring those antibodies in their blood, we will know how many people in the Dutch population have been in contact with the virus.
Several rounds of research
The screening will be repeated several times. After each round, we will know more about the development of herd immunity in the population. We will also research how long the antibodies remain present in the blood and how good the quality of the antibodies is. Then we will know if we will be capable of withstanding a second infection in the longer term as well. The study will take 18 months in total. We expect to receive the results of the first round in May.
The participants are people who previously took part in the PIENTER study. PIENTER is a long-term study among the Dutch population on protection against infectious diseases. In 2016/2017, RIVM carried out the third PIENTER study. Nearly 8,000 people between the ages of 0 and 90 years old took part in that study.
Comparing past and present
RIVM stored the remaining blood samples from the people who took part in PIENTER and granted permission to store their samples. We will be taking blood samples again for the PIENTER Corona study, by means of a fingerprick sample. We can compare the two blood samples. This will give us important information about the spread of the virus and the development of herd immunity. Our research will cover the period before, during and after the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Fingerprick blood sample
People who receive the invitation and sign up to take part will be sent a short questionnaire and a fingerprick self-sample set. The questionnaire can be completed online. Using the fingerprick self-sample set, the participants need to collect several drops of blood in a small collection tube and send it back to RIVM by post. All participation in the study takes place at home.