British Columbia

Children, young adults across B.C. to be tested for COVID-19 antibodies in new study

The study will look at how many people in B.C. under the age of 25 have already been infected with COVID-19.

Thousands of British Columbians under the age of 25 will be mailed antibody testing kits

Pupils wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 walking to class to begin their school day in Godley, Texas. (LM Otero/The Associated Press)

A new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia will look at how many children and young people across B.C. have antibodies for COVID-19. 

The study will look at how many British Columbians under the age of 25 have been infected with COVID-19. Thousands of children and young adults across B.C. will be mailed antibody testing kits. 

Dr. Manish Sadarangani, associate professor in the UBC department of pediatrics and director of the Vaccine Evaluation Centre at B.C. Children's Hospital, is leading the study. He says it will answer critical questions about the role babies, children, and young adults play in the transmission of the novel coronavirus. 

"What we're trying to do is fill in that knowledge gap, help the policy makers, help the public health officials, by providing additional information," Sadarangani told Michelle Eliot, host of CBC's BC Today. 

"We're trying to really establish the full burden of this infection on children and young adults across B.C."

There have been relatively few cases of COVID-19 among children, he says. It's still not clear whether the infection rates in children are the same as in adults, with children having milder symptoms, or whether fewer children are getting COVID-19.

"What's been striking to me in this pandemic as a pediatric infectious disease specialist is that children haven't been really prominent, which is so different than all of the other respiratory infections that we see," he said. 

The study will enable researchers to identify cases that may have been already identified through testing, as well as cases that may not have been identified previously either because of a lack of testing or a lack of symptoms.  

The team is recruiting anybody under 25 to participate in the study. Participants — or their parents —will receive a consent form, an online questionnaire, and a home finger prick test in the mail. 

Once participants mail in their blood sample, researchers will test each sample and reach out to those participants who test positive for COVID-19 antibodies.

Anyone interested in participating in the study can visit www.bcchr.ca/springstudy.

With files from BC Today

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