Largescale antibody testing could lower the scale of COVID-19 pandemic

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Research from Queen’s University Belfast suggests that largescale antibody testing could lower social activity and thus contagion of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

Throughout the pandemic, most individuals act without knowing their health state, which naturally affects their willingness to social distance. Recent research suggests that this uncertainty can be quite adverse, by increasing contagion and raising COVID-19 related deaths. However, part of the uncertainty can be reduced by antibody testing. By revealing that susceptible and asymptomatic individuals are not immune, antibody testing reduces their social activity lowering the scale of the pandemic.

The research was carried out by Dr Luis Guimaraes, Lecturer in Economics from Queen’s Management School, and recently published in the Journal of Mathematical Economics.

Dr Guimaraes built an economic model of epidemics extending the standard SIR epidemiological model, widely used to guide policy during the pandemic, to include individuals’ choice of social distancing.

In the model, individuals react to the information about infections. When infections rise, they realize the increased risk of infection and lower their social contacts, which reduces the effective reproduction number, Rt. However, if susceptible individuals are unsure of their health state and erroneously believe to be immune, they constrain their social activity by less than otherwise…

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