#Alberta; #AlbertaHealth; #SerologyTesting; #Covid19Spread
Alberta, Jun 25 (Canadian-Media): An investment of $10 million was announced on June 23 by Alberta for targeted serology testing that will help track the spread of COVID-19 across the province, media reports said.
Alberta Health Services. Image credit. Facebook Page
Serology testing -- differs from the robust polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, the most effective way of treatment for the current virus infection, accessible to all Albertans at present -- detects the presence of antibodies in a person’s blood and reveals if a person has been exposed to the COVID-19 virus in the past.
Four voluntary public health studies would be funded by Alberta Health, which will serologically test specific groups of Albertans for the virus.
Serology testing would also be made available by Alberta Health Services (AHS) for specific clinical purposes where testing can inform treatment decisions.
“We anticipate that there are people in the province who have been infected with COVID-19 and either were not tested or were unaware that they had the virus. Investing in these representative public health studies will help us understand what percentage of Albertans have a history of infection, and how to improve our health response," said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health during a news conference on June 23.
"Alberta is the first province in Canada to invest in serology testing to expand our testing capacity and help us track the spread of the virus...We are well in stage 2 of relaunching our economy and relaunching our health system but as Dr. Hinshaw has said the COVID virus is still with us...Alberta continues to be the world leader in testing. In fact, we now have completed more than 4,000 tests and will be going to keep on leading Canada and the world. That is why I am pleased to announce that our government is investing $10 million into targetted serological testing to help track the spread of COVID-19", said Tyler Shandro, Alberta Minister of Health during a news conference on June 23.
Tyler Shandro. Image credit: Twitter handle
“Albertans’ collective efforts to follow public health guidelines have helped to significantly slow the spread of COVID-19 in our province. In addition to our robust testing efforts to detect positive cases, antibody testing is one more tool that will provide the critical data we need to monitor and track the virus within our communities,” said Dr. Verna Yiu, president, and CEO, Alberta Health Services in a news release.
Two pediatric studies would be funded by the $10-million investment to measure COVID-19 antibody prevalence among groups of Calgary and Edmonton children until 2022.
A third study will be aimed to test blood samples collected for other purposes across the province.
A fourth study would be devoted to regular testing of select Albertans over the age of 45 to help officials better estimate the number of people exposed to COVID-19.
This investment in serology studies would enable Alberta to better estimate the number of people who have previously contracted COVID-19 as well as to learn about the spread of virus over time.
In addition to this, serology testing would be offered by Alberta Precision Laboratories for specific clinical purposes and research studies for funded population-level.