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

Coastal GasLink breaks ground on meter station in Kitimat

Meter station marks final point on pipeline that stretches from Northeast B.C.

Mayoral nominations open Sept. 1

Deputy Mayor Gladys Atrill confirms she will be running for the top job

Brucejack mine fatality identified

Patrick Critch was from Newfoundland

Friendship Centre optimistic MMIWG mural will be painted this year

Following trauma-informed healing workshops, project is now in the design phase

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Salmon arrive in larger numbers at Big Bar landslide

Arrival follows historic high-water levels that halted migration runs

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Battle of Fairy Creek: blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

‘Forest Defenders’ occupy road to prevent logging company from reaching Port Renfrew-area watershed

Most Read