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Around 11% of Latvians might have had coronavirus without knowing it

Approximately 11% of Latvia's population could have had Covid-19 without knowing it, according to a study by scientific institute BIOR, Latvian Television reported March 12.

In addition, in the age group 7-10 years, as many as 19% of children could have had Covid-19 without symptoms.

In order to explore the immunity of Latvian residents to the Covid-19 virus, researchers from the National Scientific Institute “BIOR”, the University of Latvia and the Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU), together with family doctors, performed free SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests on randomly selected residents of Latvia.

“We take those people who haven't been vaccinated and those who haven't been diagnosed with Covid-19. These are people who do not know whether they have had it or not,” explained the director of the RSU Institute for Public Health, Anda Ķīvīte-Urtāne.

The study has been taking place since October last year and will continue until the beginning of April this year. Tests are carried out by 120 family doctors throughout Latvia. In total, it is planned to examine up to 6,800 residents of Latvia. 4,000 people have already been tested and the first conclusions can be made.

“Antibodies are present in about 11% of Latvia's population. If we look at sex, then a slightly higher prevalence is among men. If we look at regions, Latgale has a higher distribution. Prevalence is higher among children and adolescents up to 13 years old,” said Anda Ķīvīte-Urtāne.

This means that, in Latvia, far more people could have had Covid-19 than the daily statistics about the number of sick people would suggest.

“If we have currently diagnosed a total of about 5% of the population with Covid-19, according to data from the Disease Prevention and Control Center (SPKC), then if we take antibodies the number is twice as high. Consequently, in total, twice as many people could have been infected without symptoms or with mild symptoms,” said Anda Ķīvīte-Urtāne.

This does not mean that we can now relax.

“The fact that antibodies have been found in the human body against the SARS-CoV-2 virus does not change anything. Precautions still need to be continued and you still need to wait for the vaccine. Scientific evidence from foreign research shows that, following disease, particularly in mild form or without symptoms, antibodies are not formed in sufficient quantities to protect a person from re-infection and disease," the RSU representative said.

Residents wishing to participate in this study are invited to ask their family doctor whether he or she is participating in the program. If the answer is affirmative, you can try to apply for an antibody test.

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