Swedish researchers send 1,000 self-test kits in the post to trace spread of Covid-19 antibodies in Stockholm

Swedish researchers send 1,000 self-test kits in the post to trace spread of Covid-19 antibodies in Stockholm
Photo: KTH
A thousand randomly chosen Stockholm residents will receive a coronavirus home testing kit in the post this Easter weekend as two researchers in the Swedish capital attempt to find out what percentage of the metropolitan population has potentially become immune to Covid-19.

Two KTH Royal Institute of Technology professors have decided to post serological self-test kits to 1,000 random addresses in a bid to ascertain what percentage of metropolitan Stockholm’s 2.3 million inhabitants have gained immunity to the coronavirus.

Serological tests study serum and other body fluids to measure the amount of antibodies or proteins present in the blood when the body is responding to a specific infection.

Professor Niclas Roxhed and Professor Jochen Schwenk also aim to ascertain how home testing for Covid-19 could help Swedish authorities fight the spread of the disease without overstretching the country’s health system.

“With the research study we want to test the possibility of sampling at home, of being able to easily measure if you have been infected by the virus that leads to Covid-19,” Roxhed is quoted as saying on KTH’s website.

“This can enable us to develop a reliable test that doesn’t burden the health care system.”

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The test would require a drop of blood and results won’t be made available to participants as “we can’t provide such answers because the sample is submitted anonymously,” Roxhed explained.

“But participants will greatly contribute to enabling this kind of testing to hopefully be done within a few months”.

Rather than a blotter, the technology employs a special microchannel that independently stores a precise amount of blood as a dried spot on a card.

The test kit contains all information, including a consent form.

The project has been authorised by Sweden’s testing ethics authority and researchers can only check for the presence of Covid-19 antibodies as well as other coronavirus-related parameters.

Kungliga Tekniska högskolan (which translates to Royal Institute of Technology in English and is abbreviated to KTH) is a public research university in the Swedish capital.

It is Sweden's largest technical university and conducts research and education within engineering and technology at its five Stockholm schools and campuses.  

Latest coronavirus stats for Sweden:

As of April 9th, 793 people have died with the coronavirus in Sweden. That's an increase from 687 confirmed deaths on April 8th, but there is a delay in how the statistics are reported by regional health authorities, so the increase does not equal the number of deaths in the last 24 hours.

Around 477 patients are currently being treated in intensive care, as of April 9th. Since the start of the outbreak, 719 people have been in intensive care, which also includes fatalities and patients who have recovered and been discharged.

There have been 9,141 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of April 9th (up from 8,419 on April 8th). The majority receive only mild symptoms, but everyone is urged to take precautions.

Everyone in Sweden is urged to stay at home if they are at all sick (even a mild cough or sore throat), practice social distancing, avoid non-essential travel within the country, work from home if possible, follow good hygiene practices, and avoid non-essential visits to elderly people or hospitals.

People aged over 70 or in risk groups are advised to avoid social contact as much as possible. These are Sweden's official recommendations to reduce the spread of the virus.


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