The initial results of a study has given a glimpse into how widespread antibodies to COVID-19 there is in Canada’s adult population.
The Canadian Blood Services and Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) revealed on Thursday that less than 1 per cent of the 10,000 samples from blood donors tested positive for antibodies to COVID-19, which indicate a previous infection to the virus.
The press release said that the initial results of the blood samples received from May 9 to June 8, 2020, provide a high level glimpse into an ongoing study by the Canadian Blood Services to assess SARS-CoV-2 antibodies across nine provinces.
Professor Catherine Hankins, the co-chair CITF, believes the implication of the initial results to study should be immediately brought to the public’s attention, as repoepning is causing an uptick in COVID-19 cases across the country.
“What is clear is that only a small percentage of adult Canadians has been infected by SARS-CoV-2,” said Hankins. “By far, the majority of us remain vulnerable to infection. We need to ramp up testing and tracing capacity across the country to interrupt any chains of transmission quickly to prevent unchecked spread.”
The Canadian Blood Services said that they will update their results once they complete the analysis of the full sample of 37,800 blood donations during the months of May and June.
Héma-Quebec will also have results for blood samples from Quebec in the near future, which will complete the national picture.
“These data suggest there are several undetected infections for every case confirmed with swabs and RNA tests,” said Professor David Naylor, co-chair for CITF. “That lends weight to current public health advice. Please wear a mask in public indoor spaces, wash your hands often, and practice physical distancing if you’re around people who aren’t in your COVID-19 ‘bubble’.”
Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Quebec reached out to the CITF to offer assistance, when it was created by the Canadian government in April 2020. Canada’s blood system is the first place the task force looked at for evidence of infection and immunity within Canada’s population.
According to the Canadian government, Canada has 112,672 confirmed cases of COVID-19.