THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

Researchers at the University of B.C. are partnering with BC Children’s Hospital to launch a study about kids, COVID-19 and antibodies.

On Tuesday (Dec. 1), both facilities unveiled the SPRING project, which is looking to find out how many kids, teens and young adults have contracted the novel coronavirus in B.C.

“We’ve seen, even from earlier on in the pandemic, the number of children that appear to be infected is relatively low,” said lead researcher Dr. Manish Sadarangani, associate professor in the UBC department of pediatrics and director of the Vaccine Evaluation Center at BC Children’s Hospital.

Sadarangani said this seemed unusual, given that children are well-known for spreading colds, flus and other respiratory viruses through classrooms.

According to B.C. Centre for Disease control date, so far 4,196 children and teens have been infected with COVID-19; 1,303 under the age of 10 and 2,893 between 10 and 19 years old. An additional 7,692 of 20 to 29-year-olds have tested positive for the virus, but the B.C. CDC does not break out up 20 to 24-year-olds, which is as high as the study aims to measure.

There are multiple theories as to why children seem to not get infected with, and spread around, COVID-19, the disease is caused by a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

“There are other coronaviruses that are similar to COVID-19 and kids who may have been infected with those more recently than adults, for example, may have some partial immunity that in some way is protecting them from getting COVID-19,” Sadarangani said. “But I don’t think we yet fully understand.”

Sadarangani said that part of the issue is that children are often asymptomatic carriers and that getting your child tested can seem difficult, “because of the invasiveness of the test, especially before the swish and spit test we have available.”

Testing of asymptomatic individuals, particularly prior to surgery, has revealed people who had no idea they were even infected with the virus, Sadarangani said.

“I think one of the challenges has been getting enough children,” he said of antibody testing.

READ MORE: Fever, loss of taste or smell and nausea among telltale COVID symptoms in kids, study suggests

READ MORE: Schools, hospitals top B.C.’s COVID-19 protection list

The SPRING study is looking for up to 16,000 participants now. To be eligible, participants must be under the age of 25 and living in B.C. They will be emailed a short online survey about their basic demographics and health, as well as symptoms of COVID-19. They will also be sent a kit in the mail to collect an at-home self-administered finger or heel-prick blood sample. Both the survey and blood sample will take under an hour to complete and then the sample will be mailed back to researchers.

Sadarangani said that while the study will be ongoing, the hope is to get data out after the first few weeks to help inform the next stages of COVID-19 measures. Participants will also find out if they or their child has COVID-19 antibodies.

For more information and to enrol, those interested can visit www.bcchr.ca/vec/research/spring-study.

READ MORE: BCTF asks parents to ‘create a culture of mask wearing’ as schools excluded from new rules

READ MORE: ‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Cowichan Valley school district to get new electric-powered bus by the end of the school year. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley school district to get new electric-powered school bus

Bus one of 18 to be distributed across the province

Condemned building of the Twin Gables Motel in Crofton is not safe and yet a teen has been climbing around on the roof while others were ripping the siding off the building. (Submitted)
Destructive behaviour by teens wreaking havoc on Crofton

Residents becoming fed up with the constant vandalism and fires

This tractor was stolen from Providence Farm near Duncan between May 6 and 7, 2021. (Submitted)
Tractor stolen from Cowichan’s Providence Farm

John Deere X300 model was swiped between May 6 and 7

The organizers of the annual 39 days of July festival hope to return to live shows in Charles Hoey Park this year, like in this photo taken in 2019, but audiences at the show may be limited to 50 people due to health protocols. (File photo)
39 Days of July hoping for outdoor events in Duncan this summer

Annual music festival will run from June 25 to Aug. 2 this year

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

A nurse asks screening questions at an immunization appointment in Nanaimo earlier this year. (Shawn Wagar/Island Health photo)
Island Health appreciates nurses answering the call in challenging times

Health authority draws attention to National Nursing Week

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

These are just a handful of Vancouver Island’s missing person cases. Clockwise from top left: Lisa Marie Young, Lindsey Nicholls, Micheal Dunahee, Jesokah Adkens, Belinda Cameron and Emma Fillipoff. (File photos courtesy of family members and police departments)
Could Victoria skull fragment bring closure to an Island missing persons mystery?

Skeletal remains found in Greater Victoria have not yet been identified

Most Read