Fewer than 5% of people in Scotland have antibodies to Covid-19, according to the latest analysis.
Public Health Scotland examined 4,571 blood samples taken from community healthcare appointments between the end of April and the end of June this year.
The proportion of people who had antibodies to coronavirus over that period was estimated to be 4.3%.
The Government agency has published its first “enhanced surveillance” report into the prevalence of Covid-19 antibodies, which are proteins produced when the body is fighting the virus.
Specific coronavirus antibodies remain in the blood for several weeks after infection, the report said.
Dr Nicola Steedman, Scotland’s interim deputy chief medical officer, discussed the significance of the study at the daily virus briefing on Thursday.
She said many people who have coronavirus will not show symptoms and will therefore not be tested, describing this group as the “bottom of the iceberg”.
However everyone who has contracted Covid-19 will produce antibodies, she said, giving a more complete indication of how the virus has spread through the population.
Dr Steedman said: “Only a fairly small proportion of the population have so far likely been exposed to coronavirus in Scotland.
“And it’s this low number of people exposed that explains and reinforces our ongoing messages to you.”
She reiterated the Government’s public health messaging, saying: “Firstly, we need to be careful when we’re easing out of lockdown and secondly this is why we still want you to follow the current guidance on physical distancing and all the other measures that we recommend in order to protect you, your loved ones and, in fact, to protect all of us.”
Dr Steedman added that the research used anonymous data from GPs across the country, which allowed them to “scale up” the findings.
She added that data privacy “was a priority for all of us”, saying the public should be reassured that data used was only for the most important research projects.