(The Canadian Press)

Study suggests 8 times more people in B.C. infected with virus than confirmed

The study looked at anonymous blood samples collected for reasons unrelated to COVID-19

A new study suggests eight times as many people in Metro Vancouver have been infected by the novel coronavirus than the rate of reported cases.

The joint study by researchers at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, University of B.C., LifeLabs and public health scientists is posted on the health research website medRxiv and a news conference on the findings is scheduled for Thursday morning.

The authors say the findings indicate successful suppression of community transmission in B.C., with an estimated overall infection rate of less than one per cent.

The study looked at anonymous blood samples collected for reasons unrelated to COVID-19 by LifeLabs in March and May, before and after public health measures were introduced.

The first samples in March found two of 869 specimens were positive, for a prevalence of 0.28 per cent, while the May sample found a prevalence of 0.55 per cent.

Health Minister Adrian Dix described the estimated infection rate as “very low” and says it shows the effectiveness of British Columbia’s public health measures and co-operation of the public.

“It reinforces the fact that we’re on the right track,” Dix says.

“Of course, this is as the study suggests a dual-edged question, a low level of transmission but also very few people with antibodies to deal with potential future spikes of COVID-19.”

If the study’s prevalence rate is applied to the whole provincial population, it could mean about 28,000 people have had the novel coronavirus, while 3,149 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed to date, however Dix noted the results are specific to the Vancouver area.

Health officials have repeatedly said that more people have been infected with the virus than have tested positive and Dix calls the estimated prevalence rate in B.C. “encouraging.”

“Overall the level of infection in B.C. was low and that’s due to the actions of people in B.C. That said, there are more people who were infected with COVID-19 than tested positive and that’s something we’ve said clearly, especially in the period of March and April when we were focusing our testing program particularly on specific groups including health-care workers,” Dix says.

The study is the first of its kind in Canada, he says.

The study is also important because it involved people who did not self-select for COVID-19 testing, so they likely didn’t believe they had the virus, Dix says.

The study was authorized by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and approved by the clinical research ethics board of the university. It has not yet been peer reviewed.

British Columbia recorded 21 new cases Wednesday and no new deaths. There are 207 active cases while 2,753 people who tested positive have recovered, the government said in a news release.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Courtesy of CDC).
Interior Health reports 12 additional COVID-19 cases

The total number of cases in the region is now at 644

The centre will open up for child care services on Nov. 2. File photo
Construction complete on Goat Mountain Child Care Centre

Centre staff will begin delivering child care services on Nov. 2

The house is located near two schools. Photo: Connor Trembley
Dog attack seriously injures young boy in Castlegar

Despite investigating the incident, city staff aren’t confirming if the dog has been put down

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: Affordable housing

Eighth in a series of Q&As with the candidates.

Environment Canada has issued a snow warning for the Kootenays on Friday. File photo
Environment Canada issues snow warning for Friday

Two-to-10 centimetres is expected to fall

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

One of the squirrels who ended up having their tails amputated after getting them stuck together with tree sap. (Facebook/Wild ARC)
Squirrels recovering from tail amputation after sap situation near Victoria

BC SPCA Wild ARC says squirrels will be released back into wild, fifth sibling was euthanized

More and more electric cars are on the road, but one Chevy Bolt owner was shocked to see how much his BC Hydro bill skyrocketed once he started charging the vehicle. (Black Press file photo)
Lower Mainland man sees significant spike in BC Hydro bill after buying electrical vehicle

An increase should be expected, but Brian Chwiendacz experienced a 200-plus per cent hike

The Anonymous YVR is an Instagram page that reviews restaurants and other establishments around B.C. based on how well they adhere to COVID-19 rules. (Instagram)
Anonymous Instagram page reviews COVID-19 safety measures at B.C. businesses

There are a number of public health orders various types of establishments must follow to slow virus’s spread

Most Read