Italy will begin administering experimental coronavirus immunity tests on an initial 150,000 people nationwide in early May as part of its efforts to reopen after a weekslong shutdown.
Italy’s commissioner for the pandemic, Domenico Arcuri, told state-run RAI news Thursday that the government hopes the first wave of tests will progressively grow in number and become the national standard.
Italy, the European epicenter of the pandemic, has imposed a lockdown and production shutdown through May 3.
Individual regions and even companies are already gunning to start antibody tests to accelerate the reopening. But Arcuri made clear the government wants a unified approach in testing, which he said would be one of the “fundamental pillars” of moving into the next phase of the emergency.
Arcuri said another pillar involved rolling out a voluntary contact-tracing cellphone application, to provide real-time data on movements of people and possible new clusters of infection. A pilot program would begin in some regions and then extend nationwide, he said.