COVID-19 and kids: B.C. study testing for antibodies in children and young adults

VANCOUVER — With COVID-19 cases still rising in B.C., a team of researchers is hoping to better understand how young people are impacted by the spread of the disease.

According to B.C.’s COVID-19 test results, nearly 2,900 cases have been confirmed in youth aged 10 to 19. Another 1,300 cases have been confirmed in kids under 10.

But researchers say that might not show the whole picture, and are leading a project to test for antibodies in British Columbians under the age of 24. 

“So far, we have little information on COVID-19 in children because there have been relatively few cases,” said Dr. Manish Sadarangani in an interview about the project posted to the University of British Columbia’s website. 

“Some studies suggest infection rates in children are actually the same as in adults, children simply often having no symptoms. But other studies suggest fewer children get COVID-19.”

Sadarangani said thousands of antibody tests are being mailed out to kids and young adults across the province. They can then take the test and mail samples back to researchers, along with a survey asking parents about possible exposure risks, like whether they’re following physical distancing rules and wearing masks. 

“The research team will then analyze the samples to search for antibody proteins from serological tests to better understand how many children in B.C. already have COVID-19 antibodies,” Sadarangani said. 

“The team will take a step further to see if any patterns of infection emerge among different population groups.”

Right now, the team is recruiting young participants for the study from anywhere in B.C. Participation requires filling out a consent form and an online questionnaire and completing a finger prick test. More information about how to participate is available online.

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