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

Just Posted

Wildfire smoke expected to blanket Greater Victoria again

Conditions expected to worsen Wednesday afternoon but not approach levels reached a few weeks ago

Former Victoria Royals manager celebrates Stanley Cup win

Grant Armstrong is now an amateur scout with Tampa Bay Lightning

PHOTOS: Killer whales make rare visit into Ladysmith Harbour

Orca pod inspires some fine photography

Tofino considers beach fire ban after tumultuous summer

Fires popping up where they aren’t allowed, and not properly cared for where they are

Editorial: Shake of the fatigue and bring this pandemic march home

With the finish line getting closer, don’t let up in the battle against COVID-19

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

Sooke, Sidney businesses win top awards during the BC Food and Beverage Awards

Sheringham Distillery won Gold Award for Product of Year while Cascadia Seaweed won Innovation Award

Chorus expands online options to in-person rehearsal in Langford, Oak Bay

Free, non-auditioned SingYourJoy recruits those aged 16 to 29

Nanaimo’s new NightOwls baseball team announces first player signings

Four NCAA Div. 1 players, three of them Canadians, added to roster

Bucket list: MId-Island set to come alive with special drumming

Pair of programs scheduled to take place starting October

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

Most Read