Slovenia to determine scope of coronavirus infections
A representative random sample of the population numbering between 1,000 and 1,500 people will be tested pending approval by the national commission for medical ethics. The test will presumably start next week, according to Petrovec.
The test, conducted nation-wide, will involve technicians visiting people agreeing to the test at home and taking both nasal swabs to determine the presence of the virus SARS-COV-2 as well as conducting a serological test for antibodies. The tested persons will also fill out a questionnaire.
That way, the health authorities will get a clearer picture of how many people have been infected and how many have antibodies, whose presence indicates that they had been in contact with the virus.
The results will give researchers an estimate of the actual number of the people who may have been infected but were asymptomatic, according to Petrovec.
While random tests have been conducted in Austria and Iceland and are planned in Germany, Petrovec said Slovenia's would be the first such comprehensive test in Europe.
Petrovec expects the Slovenian study will provide better results than the Austrian test as it will provide data not just on the number of infected persons but also the number of those who had been sick but have recovered.
The preliminary results are expected before the May Day holidays and would inform government decisions on the easing of lockdown restrictions.
"This will help decision-makers to adopt measures based on realistic figures," Petrovec said.
Slovenia already has a limited number of antibody tests and they will be used as a matter of priority for this study.
The trial will be managed by the Institute for Microbiology and Immunology in cooperation with the faculties of computer science, mathematics and social sciences in Ljubljana and UKC Ljubljana, Slovenia's largest hospital.