Italy has began conducting antibody tests in the northern region of Lombardy on Thursday, to glean information about coronavirus immunity.
Health authorities have said 20,000 tests would be performed every day in Lombardy.
First to be tested are those in the worst-hit provinces: health workers, those under quarantine showing coronavirus symptoms and those they have been in contact with, as well as others with mild symptoms.
The kits, made by Italian biotech firm DiaSorin, look for the presence of antibodies in the blood.
Such antibodies indicate that the person has been exposed to the virus, pointing to some level of immunity.
They differ from the more common swab tests, which test molecules from nasal secretions to determine whether a person currently has the virus.
Lombardy’s swab testing has revealed that 24 percent of those tested have the virus.
Guido Marinoni, president of Bergamo’s surgical and dental association, told newsmen on Thursday; “There’s no guarantee that these antibodies protect from a new infection. We can only hope so for the moment. We’ll know in the future.”
Authorities hope to roll out the tests to the wider region after April 29.