B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head to their daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, B.C. legislature, April 15, 2020. (B.C. government)

COVID-19: B.C. care home site of virus recovery study, Bonnie Henry says

Valid antibody test should be available soon to measure immunity

People who recovered from COVID-19 at at a B.C. care home are part of a study to determine a reliable test to see if others may have immunity.

After early efforts in the U.S. and U.K. to check for coronavirus antibodies in the population produced questionable results, a study involving patients at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver is checking whether those known to have recovered can be tested accurately, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in her daily briefing April 22.

A valid test is expected by early May to help determine what is called “herd immunity” from COVID-19, Henry said. That would allow a better measure of how many people have been exposed but haven’t had enough symptoms to be aware of it.

An additional B.C. study is using blood samples collected for other medical purposes to get a broader sample of community spread and possible immunity, Henry said.

RELATED: B.C. records 71 new COVID-19 cases, three deaths

RELATED: B.C.’s outlook coming in early May, Horgan says

With new care home outbreaks continuing to be discovered, Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix also updated their efforts to prevent care home workers from moving from facility to facility. Initially it was imposed where COVID-19 cases had been detected, then broadening to Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health facilities where long-term care outbreaks were detected.

Since then, the new rules have been put in place in Vancouver Island Health and Interior Health, where smaller numbers of workers were at multiple sites.

Dix has cautioned that with 20,000 employees involved, the entire conversion is taking time, but he vowed that will be the standard in the future.

Henry noted that there has never been a blanket rule, with doctors, pharmacists and others continuing to provide service in multiple locations with personal protective equipment and infection controls applied.


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