Nearly 36,000 Albertans had COVID-19 in mid-May: new serological study

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Serological tests detect antibodies in the blood that are only present in people who have already been infected with the coronavirus. The test determines whether a person has had COVID-19 in the past, but not whether they are currently infected or contagious.

The study involved laboratories in Alberta performing tests on approximately 9,400 anonymous random blood samples taken for other reasons during the first week of June.

Less than 1% of those samples showed the presence of antibodies, although Hinshaw warned officials could not tell if this was a representative sample of Albertans.

The results of the study mean that the first efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infection in Alberta have been successful, Hinshaw said.

“It also means that by mid-May, a very small percentage of our population had been infected with COVID-19,” she said.

The serologic testing study will be repeated monthly to show trends as Alberta begins to reopen its economy.

Meanwhile, Alberta is expanding traditional swab testing as wait times for COVID-19 tests and results increase.

The province is now allowing all community pharmacies in Alberta that meet safety requirements to enroll in a program to offer asymptomatic coronavirus testing.

Last month, Alberta launched a pilot program that has allowed more than 10,000 Albertans to be tested for COVID-19 at 20 pharmacies across Alberta.

Pharmacies can begin testing after receiving supplies from Alberta Precision Laboratories, a process that can take several weeks.

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