Italy’s coronavirus antibody testing not reaching enough people fast enough, officials say

Italy’s national serological testing plan is faced with a challenge as too few Italians are taking the test for coronavirus antibodies for the results to be valid, officials said.

Officials from the Italian Red Cross told Xinhua Tuesday that preliminary results could ultimately be useful in some limited parts of the country.

The Italian Red Cross is carrying out the study in conjunction with the country’s National Statistics Institute, best known as ISTAT, using 150,000 donated tests from Abbott Laboratories, a leading pharmaceutical firm.

But the problem, according to a statement released Tuesday from ISTAT, is that too few people are agreeing to be tested.

So far, around 70,000 tests have been administered since May, far below the 150,000-person threshold needed to make the test results useful on a national level.

ISTAT said that officials have given the option of testing to 190,000 Italians in more than 200 municipalities in order to conduct the 70,000 tests carried out so far.

The tests from Abbott Laboratories will expire by mid-July, meaning that if 80,000 more tests are not conducted before next week the results so far will be discarded.

Any new serological testing plan will have to start from scratch, since the earlier results will be too old to serve as what Italian Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health Sandra Zampa called a “snapshot” illustrating the reach of the coronavirus in the country.