Corona Antibodies: High Willingness to Undergo Tests When Costs Are Low

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Where and how long can schools remain open in times of the Corona pandemic? How safe are public transport means? Which rules must be observed when organizing events? To answer these questions, systematic tests for Corona infections and antibodies are of decisive importance. However, these are often not mandatory and the associated expenditure may be enormous. Whoever undergoes testing contributes to a better understanding of the situation. But is this motivation enough? Researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and University of California San Diego (UCSD) found that the costs of tests play an important role. Political decision-makers should therefore consider making these tests easily accessible.

In an anonymous study, Nora Szech, Professor of Political Economy of Institute for Economic Policy Research (ECON) of KIT, and Marta Serra-Garcia from Rady School of Management of University of California San Diego, studied the willingness to undergo testing for Corona antibodies of about 2000 US citizens. When costs were close to zero, 80% of the participants were ready to undergo testing. With increasing costs, the demand for tests decreased considerably. At a price of 20 dollars, the willingness to undergo testing was halved. “I am not surprised to find that not everybody was willing to undergo testing,” Nora Szech says. “Compared to tests for Huntington or HIV, the interest in Corona tests is high, but this changes drastically with increasing costs.”

Price, Income, Age and Ethnicity Are Decisive Factors

The researchers found that additional factors also affect the willingness to undergo testing. “Among these factors are the age, the suspected length and strength of immunity due to antibodies, and the uncertainty as to whether people had already been infected by the virus,” Marta Serra-Garcia says. The preparedness to pay for antibody tests also is dependent on the income, ethnic origin, and political preferences. The study revealed that supporters of US President Donald Trump were less prepared to pay for a test. This suggests that the results of Covid-19 tests of volunteers may probably not be representative of the entire population.

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