Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi / Flash 90
Magen David Adom medical team member wearing protective gear, is handling a COVID-19 coronavirus test from a patient in Jerusalem, on April 17, 2020.

Israel has finally launched its long-awaited national COVID-19 antibody testing program.

Serological testing began Monday at the Clalit and Maccabi HMO (kupat holim) clinics; any member who went to the center to receive a blood test for any reason automatically also received a blood test for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies as well.

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The move comes as part of an operation to carry out some 70,000 serological tests nationwide in hopes of determining how many Israelis have developed antibodies to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Antibodies indicate that a person has had the illness at some point in the past and has developed some form of immunity to it.

It is not yet clear how strong COVID-19 immunity may be, and it is also not clear how long that immunity might last. There have been a number of reports of people who had the virus, developed an immunity, tested negative for the active virus and then tested positive again.

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