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Survey of Hard-Hit Town

A survey of a German town indicates that about 14 percent of its population has been infected with SARS-CoV-2, Technology Review reports.

A team led by University Hospital Bonn's Hendrik Streeck collected questionnaires, throat swabs, and blood samples from about 1,000 people from 400 households in Gangelt, Germany. The town was hard hit by COVID-19, likely due to spread of the disease at its Karneval gathering. 

As Streeck and his colleagues write in a short description of their research, they found that about 2 percent of those surveyed — this initial analysis focused on 500 samples — had an ongoing SARS-CoV-2 infection and 14 percent had antibodies suggesting immunity to the disease. They also note that the town has a lethality rate of 0.37 percent, lower than that of the rest of Germany, 1.98 percent. Business Insider notes that Germany itself has a lower mortality rate than other locations in Europe. The researchers suggest their findings could have implications for how quarantines could slowly be lifted.

The researchers note in their summary, though, that these results are preliminary. Others have criticized these early findings, as Süddeutsche Zeitung reports. Some critics, it adds, say the antibody test the researchers used might pick up antibodies to other coronaviruses and note that the researchers should have only tested one person per household.