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 Currently she expects some public health orders could be eased or withdrawn by the second half of May.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

RDKB issues evacuation alert for 1,100 Boundary properties

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

RDKB launches survey to address housing needs in the district

Communities in the district include Trail, Grand Forks, Rossland and Fruitvale

Possible Kermode Bear spotted near Castlegar

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run on May 27

Stolen truck found in Christina Lake

Family happy the vehicle was found

Two more Johnson Flats properties given evacuation alerts

Forecast graphs for Boundary rivers show another spike for week of June 1

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

B.C.’s Central Kootenay region declares state of emergency, issues evacuation orders

The evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Join Kootenay family in virtual walk for Ronald McDonald House

“We always described it as our oasis in the middle of the desert,” Brigitte Ady shares.

Most Read