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 Currently she expects some public health orders could be eased or withdrawn by the second half of May.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

Public participation is coming back to Chilliwack council meetings

City of Chilliwack will use Zoom video conferencing to allow the public to make presentations

VIDEO: Trees fall into Vedder River as loop trail damaged by erosion

High stream flows directed at river bank caused section of Vedder Rotary loop trail to erode

Investigators comb through Chilliwack house following standoff

RCMP say investigation involves report of an early morning shooting

MLA Throness celebrates Children and Youth in Care Week

‘Together we can help change the stigma,’ says Opposition Critic for Children and Youth in statement

No need to get out of your car at food truck festival in Abbotsford and Langley

Annual event takes drive-thru approach during COVID-19 pandemic

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

White Rock council considers allowing alcohol in waterfront park

Council mulls business-boosting measures, including picnic benches

Langley woman recalls last words spoken to mother who died of COVID-19 on 88th birthday

Verna Clarke was more than a senior with dementia who died of COVID at Langley Lodge, she was ‘loved’

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

B.C. woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Horgan calls for national anti-racism program; will pitch idea to PM, premiers

Premier John Horgan said he’s horrified by the death of George Floyd in the United States

Most Read