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Indonesia survey finds 85% of population has COVID-19 antibodies

People wearing protective masks walk across a station platform during afternoon rush hours as the Omicron variant continues to spread, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Jakarta, Indonesia on January 3, 2022. REUTERS / Willy Kurniawan

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JAKARTA, Jan.6 (Reuters) – More than 85% of Indonesia’s population have antibodies to COVID-19, a government-commissioned investigation has shown, but epidemiologists have warned that it was not clear whether such immunity could help contain a new wave of coronavirus infections.

The investigation, conducted between October and December by researchers at the University of Indonesia, found that Indonesians had developed antibodies from a combination of COVID-19 infections and vaccinations.

Pandu Riono, an epidemiologist involved in the investigation which involved some 22,000 respondents, said the level of immunity could explain why there had not been a significant rise in COVID-19 infections since mid-July. 2021.

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Indonesia’s second wave of infections – driven by the Delta variant – peaked in July and August, with infections rising from more than 50,000 a day to a few hundred a day in recent months.

Antibodies may provide some protection against newer variants, including the highly contagious Omicron, Pandu said, adding that it would take months for this to become clear.

Omicron has infected more than 250 people in Indonesia, but most cases have been imported and a handful of local cases have so far not resulted in the type of outbreak seen in many countries.

Pandu said the investigation did not rule out the need to vaccinate more people, even those who had already been infected.

“The goal is for the majority of people to develop hybrid immunity to control the pandemic,” he said, referring to the stronger immunity in some vaccinated and also infected people.

Indonesia has only fully immunized just over 42% of its population of 270 million people.

The results of the investigation were still being reviewed to assess how different brands of vaccine might contribute to different levels of antibodies, Pandu said.

Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist at Griffith University in Australia, who was not involved in the survey, said the findings should be treated with caution as vaccination rates in Indonesia were lagging in many countries and qu ‘there was no guarantee of the lifetime of the antibodies.

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Reporting by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Ed Davies and Tom Hogue

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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