Coronavirus testing has been rationed in Switzerland, reserving it for high risk more severe cases, although doctors retain discretion to have anyone tested.
It is likely, although some uncertainty remains, that those who have been infected and have recovered will have immunity and no longer be able to act as carriers of the disease. However, without an antibody test, all those who didn’t qualify for a test, will have no way of confirming whether or not they have had it.
This means a Covid-19 antibody test could be a game changer. Those testing positive for the antibodies could soon leave isolation, get back to work and start supporting the businesses forced to close under the lockdown.
The recorded number of infections, currently nearly 11,000 in Switzerland, is likely the tip of the iceberg. For example, there are whole families reporting symptoms, where no family member has been tested. In addition, many with the virus appear to have no symptoms. These people would not have sought a test even if one had been available.
According to report by RTS, Swiss authorities are looking at the reliability of certain antibody tests already on the market. Antibody testing involves taking and analysing a blood sample.
Once the most effective test is identified, the authorities plan to order the largest number possible, a promise made last week by Daniel Koch, head of the transmissible disease division of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).