Virologist Malik Peiris calls for random tests for immunity

Monday, April 06, 2020

An infectious disease expert said today that Hong Kong authorities should consider  random testing to see how many people have built up immunity to the new coronavirus along with screenings for new infections.

Speaking as concerns rise over a possible third wave of infections coming to Hong Kong, this time from Guangdong, Professor Malik Peiris from the University of Hong Kong said those people with this so-called "immune passport" could resume a normal life.

Talking on RTHK's Hong Kong Today program, the Sri Lankan virologist said it wasn't an issue of trying to test everyone.

"If you take an appropriate random sample of the population across age groups you certainly can extrapolate [as] to what's going on across the population," Peiris said. "You don't have to test every single person."

He is also Scientific Director of HKU Pasteur Research Centre.

Peiris said the funding for developing such a test is needed as it has to be started from the scratch.

On Sunday, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) confirmed another 28 cases of coronavirus, bringing the total tally so far to 890. That compares with 17 new cases reported on Saturday.

However, Chuang Shuk-Kwan, from the CHP said that while the number of new cases has come down in recent days, it’s far too early to say that the rate of infections is declining.