It RIVM expects to have a first idea of the build-up of immunity in the Netherlands in early May. “In the PIENTER study, we take a representative sample from the population,” says lead researcher Van der Klis. “We invited 6,000 people between the ages of 2 and 92. Healthy and vulnerable, from villages and cities. We will be allowed to draw blood from them six times in the next year and a half. We will then check whether antibodies are present and whether these antibodies have a protective effect. “
At the Erasmus MC an ongoing survey is now taking place within the population of Rotterdam. “If people are hospitalized for conditions other than corona and blood is taken, they can participate in our study,” says Marion Koopmans. “We then determine whether these people have produced antibodies and whether they are effective.” Koopmans expects the first results within a week or two to three.
It Leiden University Medical Center also conducts a survey of patients who enter the hospital for reasons other than corona. “We have now been collecting samples for about a week and a half from people who have blood samples taken,” says Frits Rosendaal, professor of clinical epidemiology at LUMC. “We still have to choose a good test and I expect that we will take the first measurements within two weeks and have results a week later.”
Sanquin blood bank examines antibodies in blood donors. “Every week, about 7000 volunteers between the ages of 18 and 79 donate blood,” says spokesperson Merlijn van Hasselt. “This week we will measure antibodies in the plasma and we will do that for a week every month for as long as necessary.”
Also research into commercial tests
In order to measure immunity on a large scale and cheaply, Koopmans also conducts research into commercial tests. The research in cells is expensive and time consuming. “We are looking for tests that are a good predictor of the outcome of our cell cultures,” says virologist Koopmans. Her team is investigating a number of commercial tests that are on the WHO list. RIVM is also investigating the suitability of commercial tests.
The investigations find their way into policy through a few intermediate steps. “The results will be discussed in meetings of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT),” said RIVM spokesman Harald Wychgel. “The experts put all the studies side by side and advise the directors in The Hague.” In the end, the ministers decide what the policy will look like and which tests we will use in the Netherlands.