Electron microscope picture of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, released by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020. (Associated Press)

B.C. seeks antibody tests to determine COVID-19 ‘community immunity’

Some tests look ‘very promising,’ Dr. Bonnie Henry says

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is examining 17 different immune system tests with people who are known to have recovered from COVID-19, checking their accuracy before deploying tests to measure what is often called “herd immunity” from the coronavirus pandemic.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prefers the term “community immunity,” rather than the veterinary reference. Like other public health experts, she sees “serology tests” of immune system response as a key to easing restrictions on business and other public activity. Currently she expects some public health orders could be eased or withdrawn by the second half of May.

“The B.C. CDC lab has been doing testing on 17 different types of serology tests here in B.C.,” Henry said at her April 28 briefing on the pandemic. “There are a couple that are very promising.”

Residents at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver and others who have been confirmed to have recovered from COVID-19 are taking part in the studies.

“One of the key things that we need to do is to be able to have people that we know have the disease and test them and see if their antibodies show up,” Henry said. “Some of the people who have recovered from COVID-19 are in line to help us validate, as we call it, the test. That is happening even this week.”

RELATED: Canada part of global blood plasma research project

RELATED: ‘Rebooting B.C.’ means carefully reopening businesses

Blood samples have also been stored from a range of B.C. residents of different ages, waiting for an antibody test to be verified and selected. One focus will be whether some people had antibodies before the outbreak started.

“Then we are doing another cross-section of the population early in May, because that gives some time for antibodies to be developed for those who have it,” Henry said. “We will do it again in six months.”

The World Health Organization remains cautious about the potential for immunity for those who have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the technical term for the virus that causes COVID-19.

“We expect that most people who are infected with COVID-19 will develop an antibody response that will provide some level of protection,” the WHO said on Twitter April 25. “What we don’t yet know is the level of protection or how long it will last. We are working with scientists around the world to better understand the body’s response to COVID-19 infection. So far, no studies have answered these important questions.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Morning start: This famous singer is from the West Kootenays

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Tuesday, May 26

RDCK recycling depots to join RecycleBC program

Some depots open, others close, and different materials will be accepted

West Kootenay SAR crews rescue injured mountain biker near Rossland

Crews were called in to help after the biker seriously injured himself at around noon Saturday

Suspected fentanyl and cocaine seized during RCMP search in Castlegar

Two men were taken into police custody during the search warrant

Castlegar and Creston skate parks opening May 27

The RDCK is asking skateboarders to take physical distancing protocols to combat spread of COVID-19

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Drug-pricing petition garners thousands of signatures

Petition started by Chilliwack mom also drew support of Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl

‘Paralyzed by fear’: B.C. woman details anxiety, grief at Italian relief hospital

Sheila Vicic spent two months in Italy as the country grappled with COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry given new name in B.C. First Nation ceremony: ‘one who is calm among us’

The provincial health officer was honoured in a May 22 ceremony at elementary school in Hazelton

CAMH survey looks at binge-drinking, financial anxiety during COVID

Alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism for those whose careers may have been sidelined due to the pandemic

Half of Canadians say governments are hiding something about COVID-19: poll

More than a third of people believe the virus was created in a lab

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Most Read