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

COVID-19: ‘Community immunity’ testing getting closer in B.C.

‘Frustrating,’ still no antibody test authorized for use in Canada

Some B.C. residents are waiting to be tested, not for COVID-19 but the antibodies created by the immune system to protect against it.

Health Canada has not yet approved a “serology” or antibody test for determining if people have had an immune system response to the coronavirus, but the search is narrowing down, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says.

“There are a couple of good candidates that the B.C. Centre for Disease Control is working on, two in particular,” Henry said in her May 9 briefing. “They are in the midst of testing people who we know had this illness and looking at the antibody test and looking at the antibody levels and how well the test performs, so validating the test.”

Reliable antibody testing would determine what Henry calls “community immunity,” picking up on people who contracted COVID-19 and recovered, in some cases without knowing it.

Antibody testing is of great interest around the world, to determine what immunity a person may have after recovering from COVID-19, and how long it may last. The Lancet, a leading British medical journal, reported in April that U.S. authorities gave the green light for drug companies to start selling tests, on condition they withdraw them from the market if their results aren’t up to standard.

RELATED: B.C. care home part of COVID-19 recovery study

RELATED: B.C. breaks heat records as restrictions ease

One Canadian test group is people who tested positive for COVID-19 at Lynn Valley Care Centre, the first B.C. senior home to record an outbreak, Henry announced in late April. At that time there were 17 different antibody tests being validated, after initial deployment of antibody testing in the U.S. resulted in false positive and false negative results that invalidated their findings.

Health Canada has restrictions on what tests can apply for validation, and is not accepting home or self-test products.

“I have to say, for all of us across the country, it’s a bit of a frustrating process because the tests are not as good as we would hope them to be,” Henry said. “So what we look for is how well they detect people who have the virus and how well they determine people that don’t have the virus. That’s what we call sensitivity and specificity.”

A Canadian expert panel has been set up to look at the immune effects of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.


@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

Seafest parade sails on June 27

Tides are turning during COVID-19 for Prince Rupert parade

SD 52 fires superintendent

Dr. Irene LaPierre removed from position immediately.

B.C. government eyes antlerless moose harvest increase in bid to save caribou

Antlerless moose hunts reduce predation for threatened mountain caribou, says ministry

Necropsy for Port Edward wolf is scheduled

Wolf sightings in Prince Rupert have increased

Wolf killed in Port Edward

Samples to be sent to lab. for testing

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

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’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

B.C. ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after man receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Most Read