Vancouver Island physician Dr. Bridget Reidy says antibody tests could be the next step in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)

Antibody tests could be the next step in fighting COVID-19, Island doctor says

The blood test could show if a person is recovering or has recovered from the virus

Antibody tests could be the next step in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, testing for the novel coronavirus includes swabbing the nasal passage and waiting on results, explained Dr. Bridget Reidy, a family physician practicing on the Saanich Peninsula. These tests prove if a person currently has the virus.

An antibody test, however, would involve testing a person’s blood to find out if they’re recovering from or have already recovered from the virus, Reidy said.

READ ALSO: B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

“Antibodies are like specific weapons against a specific disease,” she explained.

On March 26, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry explained that B.C. is “absolutely looking for an antibody test.” She added that she’s aware of several experimental tests in other parts of the world but couldn’t say when the tests might arrive in B.C.

Blood tests for COVID-19 could, however, begin soon in the United Kingdom (UK). On March 24, UK health secretary Matt Hancock announced that the country had ordered 3.5 million antibody tests which will indicate who is now immune to COVID-19. This, he explained, would allow people to go back to work because experts don’t believe someone can catch the virus a second time.

READ ALSO: Latest Canadian updates: About 7% of COVID-19 cases require hospitalization

The following day, during the country’s daily COVID-19 update, Chris Whitty, the UK’s chief medical officer, explained that antibody testing could be introduced soon but that the technology is still being evaluated.

He added that using the tests without confirming their accuracy could lead to incorrect results which would be dangerous. However, Whitty said if the tests work, they would allow frontline health care workers to confirm that they’re protected and can go back to work.

Reidy pointed out that because coronaviruses don’t evolve quickly like influenzas, a person who tests positive for antibodies would likely be “protected for the time being” but that they would require follow-ups as the COVID-19 coronavirus is new.

READ ALSO: UVic offers students Pass/Fail grading option as COVID-19 impacts spring studies

Reidy added that aside from indicating if a person is protected from COVID-19, antibody testing would also provide more accurate data on the number of people affected by the virus as current data may not include those who had mild or no symptoms.

While the antibody test’s efficacy has yet to be proven, Reidy expects it will arrive in Canada shortly after it’s been approved.

For now, she recommends that everyone act like they have the virus and also as if they don’t but everyone else does – meaning stay away from others to avoid spreading or catching COVID-19.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

British ColumbiaHealthcareSaanich Peninsula

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New Sooke library project awarded to Nanaimo-based company

No construction timeline announced by contractor

West Shore RCMP searching for missing Langford man

The 59-year-old man was last seen Aug. 23 and was reported missing to police Sept. 20

Saanich police searching for high-risk missing man

The 35-year-old was last seen at his Saanich residence on Sept. 15

After 53 years, Saanich Jr. B team rebrands as Predators

Saanich Predators Junior B hockey team navigates COVID, culture

Liberals vow wage-subsidy extension to 2021, revamp of EI system in throne speech

Canadian labour market was hammered by pandemic, when lockdowns in the spring led to a loss of 3 million jobs

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Sept. 22

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Grand jury indicts police officer in Breonna Taylor death

Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Most Read