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S. Korea begins coronavirus antibody tests

Welfare/Medicine 15:57 June 30, 2020

SEOUL, June 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has started full-fledged coronavirus antibody tests to determine the true extent of infections in the country, a senior health official said Tuesday.

"Serology tests are being conducted on blood samples of 3,055 people to find out how many people have immunity against the novel coronavirus," Kwon Joon-wook, deputy director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), said in a daily briefing in Osong, about 120 kilometers south of Seoul.

In early May, the KCDC said it would carry out nationwide serology tests to discover the real extent of coronavirus infections in Asia's fourth-largest economy.

Kwon Joon-wook, deputy director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), speaks at a daily coronavirus briefing at the KCDC headquarters in Osong, about 120 kilometers south of Seoul, on June 30, 2020. (Yonhap)

Serology tests are known to be in use in Europe, the United States, Japan and other advanced nations to figure out how many people are infected with the potentially deadly virus.

Going forward, the center will conduct serology tests every two months, Kwon said, adding tests will be carried out on 1,000 people in Daegu and adjacent North Gyeongsang Province, once the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, in July or August.

Serology tests are expected to be completed around the end of this year, and their results will be unveiled after a review by experts, he said.

Meanwhile, 229 recovered COVID-19 patients have promised to donate their blood plasma to help develop plasma-derived treatments, the center said.

South Korea has screened 1,273,766 people since early January, with 12,800 testing positive for the virus and 282 deaths reported as of Tuesday. A total of 11,537 patients have fully recovered.
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