Results of the COVID-19 seroprevalence study

22% of Ticino residents entered in contact with Covid-19: thanks to the excellent performance of the serological tests donated by IBSA, the results of the study are now available.

IIn May 2020, IBSA donated 7000 serological rapid tests, contributing to a seroprevalence study promoted by the cantonal Office of Medicine, in collaboration with the Canton Ticino Order of Medicine (OMCT - Ordine dei medici del Cantone Ticino). The objective of this study was to get an estimate of the new coronavirus epidemic among the Ticino population over a span of 12 months.

A little over a year later, on the 12th of July, the Cantonal Department of Health and Social Affairs published the results, on the occasion of a press conference in Bellinzona which saw the participation of Raffaele De Rosa, Director of the Department of Health and Social Affairs, Giorgio Merlani, cantonal Doctor and Martine Bouvier Gallacchi, Head of Health Promotion and Evaluation Service.

This study allowed to determine:

  • the percentage of people who have entered in contact with the virus;
  • the percentage of people who have maintained a detectable immunity response;
  • whether there is any recurrency linked to age and sex.

The collected data show that:

  • In July 2021, SARS-CoV-2 antibodies are detectable in the 22% of the Ticino population. This means that one on four people has entered in contact with Covid. In December 2020, this percentage was at 14%, in May 2020 was at 9%.
  • In the 62% of the registered cases, those who enter in contact with the virus maintain antibodies for a year. This, however, does not correspond to immunity since there is still no evidence of correlation between amount of antibodies and virus immunity.
  • It is confirmed that there are no statistically relevant seroprevalence differences based on sex and age.

A random and representative sample of 1,500 people aged five and over and resident in Ticino were invited to take part in the study. The study had a duration of 12 months on 4 time points (May, August, November 2020 and May 2021), this means that the tests were performed on the same sample four times, so as to track antibody development.

In order to detect the presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 virus, it was used the rapid immunochromatographic test donated by IBSA Institute Biochimique, the pharmaceutical company based in Lugano.  This test features a good degree of sensitivity and specificity, is easy to use and provides a rapid result.

The cantonal Doctor Giorgio Merlani has anticipated a fifth and sixth round, with the belief that those who have already participated in the study will commit again.

Tiziano Fossati, Head of R&D Pharmaceutical at IBSA, commented: “We are very satisfied to have brought our contribution with important and relevant data for the community. The Canton Ticino Authorities turned out to be very far-sighted in setting up this study, and IBSA is very happy to confirm its support to gather additional epidemiological data in the next few months.