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 Currently she expects some public health orders could be eased or withdrawn by the second half of May.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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Victoria Flamenco Festival goes virtual for 2020 event

The show will go online from July 23 to 26

Metchosin bird card project finds its wings

On display at Metchosin ArtPod from July 10 to 12

UVic research team creating virus-resistant washbasins for post-pandemic world

Civil engineer Rishi Gupta hopes basins will be installed in public spaces

Walk for Peace takes a virtual turn for Victoria Hospice

Residents can still register for Gordy Dodd’s 11th annual fundraiser

United Way Greater Victoria launches Hi Neighbour program in Esquimalt

Feedback sought from residents about funding for micro community projects

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Annual music event in Comox Valley celebrates online instead

Vancouver Island MusicFest holds virtual celebration set for July 10

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Most Read