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Epidemiologist: Many Belgians infected during lockdown, group immunity impossible NOW

The proportion of Belgians with antibodies against the coronavirus increased from 3 to 6 percent between the end of March and mid-April, according to the second measurement in the blood test of the University of Antwerp on Thursday.

The numbers indicate that many people have been infected after the announcement of the lockdown in Belgium on March 18, epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme said Thursday in the Canvas program The appointment.

According to the researchers, two age groups stand out when it comes to the production of antibodies: people in their twenties and eighties.

Every three weeks, the University of Antwerp collects blood samples from large laboratories in Wallonia, Brussels and Flanders. For the second measurement, approximately 3,400 blood samples from people of different age groups were examined.

In three weeks, the university will publish a third measurement, which will be followed by the fourth three weeks later. The latter measurement is particularly important, because the consequences of the relaxation of the measures must then be visible.

“Maybe more people will become infected, but it can also confirm that people are even careful with the relaxation. That would be fantastic and show that we are doing well,” says Van Damme.

“Group immunity will not be achieved”

With a share of 6 percent, Belgians are still far from the at least 60 percent required to speak of group immunity. In that situation, the virus can no longer spread easily. It is very doubtful whether that percentage will be achieved.

“That will not happen,” said Van Damme. “Even the European countries that counted on this, such as Sweden or the United Kingdom, have left that idea and will have to find another way.”

The Dutch cabinet also spoke about group immunity as a side effect of tackling the corona virus in the Netherlands. However, Prime Minister Mark Rutte repeated several times that group immunity is not an end in itself.

RIVM boss Jaap van Dissel stated earlier that persons who have recovered from the coronavirus have “some degree of immunity”. It is suspected that not everyone who has had the virus is immune. It is also not known how long individuals remain immune if they have had the virus.

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