Sanquin, along with the Department of Health (VWS), has ordered 1 million new test kits to investigate coronavirus immunity in blood and plasma donors, the nonprofit said Tuesday. The tests are available immediately.

Sanquin announced the expansion after a working visit by Minister Hugo de Jonge (Public Health) and coronation ambassador Feike Sijbesma. The Chinese tests of the Wantai company have been ordered by Sanquin and paid for by the Ministry.

The tests can detect the presence of anti-coronavirus antibodies in the blood of donors. The non-profit organization is currently investigating the spread of the virus and accumulated immunity among the Dutch population, together with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).

The first half of Sanquin's research showed that the tests used achieved good results, the organization says. The tests are extra helpful because they can detect three different antibodies, Sanquin said.

First test results: 3 percent of donors infected

This month, the organization brought the preliminary results of the first study to 7,500 donors. The non-profit organization tested all blood and plasma donors for antibodies for a week.

From that test that 3 percent of them had antibodies, and were therefore infected with the COVID-19 virus. Sanquin now wants to repeat these tests regularly. Another test with seven thousand donors will follow next week, a spokesperson for Sanquin tells NU.nl.

Sanquin can scale the number of anti-dust tests, if necessary, to 10,000 per day. The newly acquired tests allow the organization to move "months ahead," the spokesman said.

"It is a repeat investigation. There are no conclusive agreements about how long it will continue. For the time being, we will keep it up until it is no longer necessary," said the spokesperson.

Protecting vulnerable people

Sanquin also hopes to use the blood of immune donors for the production of antibody preparations, which can protect vulnerable persons against the corona virus.

According to Sanquin, this process can be set up and carried out within a few weeks, when the organization has been commissioned to do so by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the financing has been completed.

Sanquin supports research into the treatment of corona patients

In addition, an investigation by Erasmus MC is currently underway into the treatment of COVID-19 patients with plasma containing antibodies. The LUMC will start the same investigation on Monday.

To continue these studies successfully, a "significant upscaling" of plasma and antibody collection is required, Sanquin said. That collection could be started from the end of May, if De Jonge orders it.

The organization also informed De Jonge that there is a test capacity for regular corona tests of 3,600 per day. It can also make the necessary test fluid for those tests (lysis buffer) in the laboratory.

Correction: an earlier version stated that Sanquin could take 10,000 regular tests per day; adapted to anti-dust tests.

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