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

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

LETTER: CERB is simply worsening overdose issues in Maple Ridge

Taxpayer money is going to help buy more drugs and increase cases of death on local streets: Reader

Ridge Meadows Soccer welcomes former Whitecaps coach to club

Craig Dalrymple will join organization as new sporting director

Problems delay opening of sheets at Planet Ice Maple Ridge

Getting hold of parts, making repairs mean rinks won’t be available until January: facilities manager

SHARE: Smoky skies cast Alouette Lake in a rather haunting light

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Most Read