New study finds less than 1% of British Columbians had coronavirus at the end of time restrictions in May

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New Joint Study by University of British Columbia, BC Center for Disease Control, LifeLabs and Public Health Scientists Finds Low Levels of Coronavirus Infections Using Serological Tests, Adding Evidence that British Columbians have successfully suppressed community transmission of viruses throughout the early 2020 period.The study, which was not peer reviewed, is the first in Canada to report estimates of anti-coronavirus antibodies in the general population.

Using seroprevalence research (looking for antibodies in blood samples from a random group of people), he estimates that less than one percent of people in British Columbia were infected with coronavirus. when restrictions on the first wave were relaxed in May.

Health Minister Adrian Dix made some preliminary comments on the findings Wednesday afternoon, adding that a full press conference on the study will take place on Thursday morning.

Dix congratulated all the people of British Columbia for their efforts to smooth the curve.

“I think the news is generally very positive. I’m just very, very proud, ”said Dix.

Lower Mainland laboratory samples

The study looked at samples taken in March and May from laboratories in the Lower Mainland where cases of coronavirus in the community are expected to be highest.

Researchers examined the samples for antibodies. As of March, two of the 869 samples were positive, but none of them had antibodies. As of May, four of the 885 samples were positive and all four had antibodies.

The document noted that there were limitations in their analysis, pointing out that there is uncertainty as to how long the antibodies stay in the body after a coronavirus infection or whether those who are asymptomatic have it, which may lead to an underestimation of seroprevalence.

Double-edged results

Dr. Srinivas Murthy, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia, did not participate in the study, but is a COVID researcher for the World Health Organization.

Murthy said the results were encouraging.

“I am encouraged by the results in that we are doing good work, or have done good work, in the past few months to reduce the burden of infections in the community,” said Murthy.

However, Murthy noted that the results are somewhat double-edged, as the low presence of antibodies in the population means that more people are vulnerable to any future spike in coronavirus.

“We believe that if you have antibodies, you will not be infected,” he said. “If, in fact, there is a low serum prevalence of protective antibodies against [coronavirus] then it leaves us vulnerable to new infections. ”

The researchers expect to continue the studies using serological tests as the pandemic progresses.

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