Testing in British Columbia actually revealed 10 times more variants of COVID-19 than health officials reported

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Testing in British Columbia actually revealed 10 times more variants of COVID-19 than health officials reported


VANCOUVER – CTV News has learned that specialized screening to identify previously undetected cases of COVID-19 variants has been discovered 10 times more than what health officials initially revealed.
Last month, the province’s top doctor announced that the BC Center for Disease Control had conducted a “point prevalence” analysis, in which they looked at all positive COVID-19 cases from Jan.30 to Feb.5 to to determine if there were any variants spreading in the community, finding only three cases out of 3,099.

But during a modeling presentation Thursday, Dr Bonnie Henry used a slide with a graph showing dozens of cases for variant screening in the fifth week of the year. Additionally, some scientists in the province recently received updated data from the BC CDC, including a graph obtained by CTV News indicating that the “overall prevalence” of variants in this survey was actually 28.

That is, almost 10 times more cases than what Henry described.

On Monday, Henry admitted that there were many more samples that tested positive for the N501Y mutation shared by all variants.

“There were about 30 of them – so about one percent were positive for the screening test, and that was some of the data that I reported when modeling, and then there were three that had done by the time. I reported it, so it was slightly higher, ”Henry said.

On February 12, when she first discussed testing, she used the much smaller number to reassure that there wasn’t a plethora of cases unknown to researchers or public health officials.

“You know the good news is that right now, with these 3,099 cases that have been screened and all the genome sequencing has been done, we are seeing 0.1% right now.” , she said at the time.

The information was not easy to confirm. CTV News has made several attempts to clarify the numbers and the gap with the CDC, but although it told us it was working on a response early Friday afternoon, the agency did not provide any information despite other emails and phone calls.

UBC biomathematician Sally Otto raised concerns about the transmissibility of the variants and how many we are able to detect in the community and also noted the gap in the presentation of the modeling, which she also considered. as being much higher than what has been disclosed to the public. weeks earlier.

“The lack of clear data on the variants of concern hampered our ability to predict the spread of B.1.1.7 in British Columbia and misled us into underestimating the risks posed by VOCs in the province,” said said Otto.

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