Can antibody testing make your workplace safe? The evidence is building…

 In English, News

The more antibodies we build in our immune systems, the better we can resist the ravages of illness due to viruses.  And the more of us who have antibodies to a certain virus, the more immune Canadians will be.  This is the essence of ‘herd immunity’ that we’ve understood to date.

Understanding the role of antibodies with each new virus is critical to determining the possibility of herd immunity towards the virus.  But antibody testing takes time and large sample sizes to produce valid results.

So, the release last week of the initial results of the study underway by Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force and Canadian Blood Services on SARS-CoV02 antibodies provides the first hard evidence of whether we’re ready to head back into our workplaces en masse without planning and preparation.

 It seems we’re not. At least not yet. The study revealed that between May 9 and June 8 fewer than 1 per cent of the 10,000 samples from blood donors tested positive for antibodies for the coronavirus. These are the top-line results of the full study of 37,800 Canadians indicating past infection with COVID-19 to be released at a later date. But the study leaders decided to release this preliminary result now because an overwhelming majority of Canadians remain vulnerable to infection at the very time of a worrisome uptick in COVID-19 cases as provinces ‘open up’ across the country.

We’ll be hosting Dr. Steven Drews, Associate Director of Microbiology at Canadian Blood Services, at a webinar on Thursday, July 30th at 12:00 p.m. to discuss the implications – good and bad – of these early results.

Said Dr. Drews: “Yes, this is an early snapshot of the data, and we know that seroprevalence data can change over time as more specimens are tested and immunity builds. But even if the 1% infection rate doubles to 2% in the near future, the implications are just as serious- we are far away from positivity rate that would suggest we have herd immunity  .”

The coronavirus pandemic has taught us that information about this virus  is constantly evolving, so our responses have to also evolve . For example, it appears that some COVID-19 antibodies may disappear within two or three months, which raises the question of implications: could people require a  a booster vaccine every year?

But, however those responses change, it’s clear that wearing masks, avoiding crowded places, especially indoors, and avoiding prolonged close contact are all effective ways to avoid infection.

Dr. Drews concluded: “The study can give us many new insights into how Canada’s public health authorities should respond, and by implication, how Canadian business can best follow their recommendations.”

To learn more and to talk directly with Dr. Drews, please register for next Thursday’s webinar here.

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