Coronavirus: starting on Monday for serological tests for 150 thousand on a voluntary basis – La Stampa


ROME. Understand how many people in Italy have developed antibodies to Coronavirus, even in the absence of symptoms, estimate the size and extent of the infection in the population and describe its frequency in relation to certain factors such as gender, age, region of origin, economic activity. This is in order to direct policies at national or regional level and to modulate contagion containment measures. The vast national epidemiological investigation starts on Monday 25 May through serological tests on a sample of 150 thousand people distributed in two thousand Italian municipalities.

The investigation is signed by the Ministry of Health and Istat, in collaboration with the Italian Red Cross which with its volunteers will reach the people chosen for sampling. Membership is voluntary and tests are free. To clarify this on several occasions the Government, also through Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, during the information to the Chamber on 21 May, and Istat itself. No obligation for citizens to answer the call. But to raise awareness of participation on all Rai networks, a spot dedicated to the investigation will be broadcast and posters will be posted in pharmacies and parapharmacies, thanks to the collaboration offered by Federfarma and the Federation of the Order of Italian Pharmacists (Fofi).

Lombardy will be the region with the largest sample of 20 thousand individuals. The choice takes into account not only the demography but also the estimates of the pervasiveness of the virus at a territorial level. Other large regions will be located just below the selected 10,000, less than 4,000 in the smaller or less affected by the epidemic. The tests will be carried out “for the exclusive purpose of scientific research”, clarified Prime Minister Conte in the information in the Chamber. “It will be necessary – he added – an effort based on the work of volunteers in the area” and there will be “a national coordination structure”. In a note released on the eve of the start of tests by the Ministry of Health, Istat and CRI, it is emphasized that “the confidentiality of the participants will be maintained for the duration of the investigation”. All participants will be assigned an anonymous identification number for the acquisition of the test result. The link of this identification number with individuals will be managed by the investigation team and will be disclosed only to authorized bodies, it is explained. “The results of the survey, disseminated anonymously and in aggregate form – explains the note – can also be used for other scientific studies and for comparative analysis with other European countries”.

The selected people will be contacted by telephone by the regional centers of the Italian Red Cross to schedule an appointment for blood collection in one of the selected laboratories. It can also be performed at home if the subject is fragile or vulnerable. At the time of contact, you will also be asked to answer a specific questionnaire prepared by Istat, in agreement with the Scientific and Technical Committee. The Region will communicate the outcome of the exam to each participant residing in the territory. In the event of a positive diagnosis, the interested party will be placed in temporary home isolation and contacted by their regional health service or local health authority to make a nose-pharyngeal swab to check for any state of contagiousness.

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