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

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

Just Posted

Vancouver Island University. (File photo)
Province announces funding for VIU to train mental health workers

Provincial government says pandemic has intensified need for mental health supports

The City of Nanaimo’s Community Services Building at 285 Prideaux St., where the 7-10 Club is located, will host a warming centre seven days a week through March 31. (City of Nanaimo photo)
Warming centres for people experiencing homelessness open today in Nanaimo

City of Nanaimo and social agencies partnering on Wallace and Prideaux locations

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
AUDIO: Interview with broadcaster and Island resident Terry David Mulligan

PQBeat podcast asks Nanoose Bay resident about radio and TV career, wine and more

Paige Karczynski is the new executive director of Nanaimo Community Hospice Society. (Photo submitted)
New executive director leading Nanaimo hospice at a time when grief counselling is greatly needed

Paige Karczynski takes over as Nanaimo Community Hospice Society begins its 40th year

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

Emma Nunn from Alberni Valley Rescue Squad waits at the summit of Mount Arrowsmith for the rest of the AVRS rope rescue team on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY DAVE POULSEN, AVRS)
UPDATE: Injured hiker among three rescued in the dark from Mount Arrowsmith

‘It was a very bad, very precarious spot to be able to locate them’

A still from surveillance footage showing a confrontation in the entranceway at Dolly’s Gym on Nicol Street on Friday morning. (Image submitted)
Troublemaker in Nanaimo fails at fraud attempt, slams door on business owner’s foot

VIDEO: Incident happened at Dolly’s Gym on Nicol Street on Friday morning

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Most Read