COVID-19 study in German hotspot town finds antibodies in 6 percent of residents

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Medical workers are seen in a COVID-19 quarantine hospital in Cairo, Egypt, on June 15, 2020. Egypt reported on Monday its highest single-day COVID-19 deaths with 97 fatalities, taking the death toll in the North African country to 1,672, said the Egyptian Health Ministry. According to the ministry's spokesman Khaled Megahed, 1,691 new COVID-19 infections have also been registered in the past 24 hours, bringing the total confirmed cases to 46,289. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)
(Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)

A German study on COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has found that six percent of citizens in a former hotspot in the federal state of Bavaria had antibodies to the coronavirus and had thus already been infected, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said on Tuesday.

According to the RKI study, 14.5 percent of people with positive antibody test results were asymptomatic, while all others showed at least one of the symptoms, such as fever, shortage of breath or pneumonia.

The study, conducted among 2,153 adults in the town of Bad Feilnbach, also found that almost 40 percent of participants with a positive COVID-19 test result did not have antibodies. However, “this does not necessarily mean that immunity does not exist,” the RKI, the federal agency for disease control and prevention, noted.

“Most of the results apply for the municipality of Bad Feilnbach only” and are not generally applicable to other towns or even to Germany as a whole, said the leader of the RKI study, Claudia Santos-Hoevener, at a press conference on Tuesday.

Nevertheless, the results are “meaningful and informative” and may help answer some urgent questions about other localities, for example about the dynamics of the infection process, added Santos-Hoevener.

The study is part of a larger piece of research conducted by the RKI in four towns in Germany, which have been heavily affected by COVID-19. Two weeks ago, another study on a different former hotspot detected 3.9 times more infections than were officially confirmed. The latest study only detected 2.6 times more infections.

Santos-Hoevener stressed that the published results were “first key data.” The RKI will continue to analyze the data in the coming weeks and further results will be published.

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