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Researchers sending out home test kits to identify spread of COVID-19 antibodies in Stockholm

This letter, containing a corona virus self-test kit, will appear in 1,000 Stockholmers' mailboxes over the holiday weekend.
Published Apr 07, 2020

Corona virus self-test kits are being mailed to 1,000 residents of Stockholm over the Easter weekend by two professors at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

KTH Associate Professor Niclas Roxhed and Professor Jochen Schwenk are mailing out the anonymous serological tests to random addresses in order to analyze how many residents of the Stockholm metropolitan have developed antibodies to COVID-19, and potentially gained immunity to the disease.

The project also aims to test how home testing for the novel corona virus could help authorities fight the pandemic without burdening the health system.

“With the research study we want to test the possibility of sampling at home, of being able to easily measure if you have been infected by the virus that leads to COVID-19,” Roxhed says. “With the research results, we want to help authorities and decision makers with important information about sampling and new test methods, and try to get an overview of the spread of infection in the Stockholm region.

“This can enable us to develop a reliable test that does not burden the health care system.”

The test would require a drop of blood. Results will not be made available to participants.

“We can’t provide such answers because the sample is submitted anonymously. But participants will greatly contribute to enabling this kind of testing to hopefully be done within a few months,” he says.

The type of test card is one that Roxhed and Professor Olof Beck at Karolinska Institutet developed together over the last eight years. Instead of a blotter, the technology uses a special microchannel, which autonomously stores a precise amount of the blood as a dried spot inside the card.

The test has been authorized by Sweden’s testing ethics authority. The researchers are limited to checking for the presence of antibodies for COVID-19 and other corona virus-related parameters. The test kit contains all information, including a consent form.

This research project also involves Karolinska Institutet. The sampling technique itself is commercialized in the company Capitainer AB.

Peter Larsson/David Callahan