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

Graph showing the 2020 passenger totals at the Northwest Regional Airport in Terrace. (Submitted/Northwest Regional Airport)
New year brings an end to a turbulent 2020 at Northwest Regional Airport

Passenger totals half of what they were in 2019

Wireless voice and data services are out for those on Telus as of Thursday (Jan. 14) afternoon across Western Canada, Telus Support said in a recent Tweet. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATE: Telus services restored across Western Canada

Telus said they are monitoring the situation to ensure connections remain stable

The leisure pool at the Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre will be open Thursday and closed Friday for maintenance, the DoK said in an updated Facebook post Thursday (Jan. 14). (Kitimat Leisure Services photo)
UPDATE: Leisure pool at Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre open Thursday, closed Friday

The leisure pool will be closed Friday (Jan. 15) for maintenance due to a mechanical issue

The Haisla Nation Council buildings in Kitamaat Village, which are currently closed as staff continue the work-from-home orders put in place prior to the winter break. (Haisla Nation Council photo)
Case numbers rise as Kitamaat Village preps for arrival of COVID-19 vaccine

Haisla Nation Council said Kitamaat Village will be getting the vaccine “sometime in January”

The leisure pool at the Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre has been temporarily closed due to mechanical issues. (Kitimat Leisure Services photo)
Leisure pool closed temporarily at Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre

The leisure pool was closed Wednesday (Jan. 13) and is expected to re-open Saturday (Jan. 16)

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Two toucans sit on tree at an unidentified zoo. (Pixabay.com)
BC SPCA calls for ban on exotic animal trade after 50 parrots, toucans pass through YVR

One toucan was found dead and several others were without food

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials says it will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Letisha Reimer died Nov. 1, 2016 after being stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
No evidence that killer was in ‘psychotic state’ during Abbotsford school stabbing: Crown

Second day of closing arguments at ‘not criminally responsible’ hearing for Gabriel Klein

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Canadian Press file)
Full parole granted to former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse of boys

Alan Davidson convicted of abusing boys in B.C. and Saskatchewan in late ’70s, early ’90s

The first COVID-19 vaccine arrives in B.C. in temperature-controlled containers, Dec. 13, 2020. (B.C. government)
More vaccine arrives as B.C. struggles with remote COVID-19 cases

Long-term care homes remain focus for public health

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in 60 B.C. First Nations by next week

B.C. has allocated 25,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to First Nations for distribution by the end of February

Most Read