(The Canadian Press)

(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

Google Maps screenshot taken at 7:30 a.m.
TRAFFIC: Westbound Highway 1 crash blocking left lane in Langley

Incident at 264th Street slowing morning commuters

Elias Pettersson and the Vancouver Canucks drew a large crowd to the Abbotsford Centre in 2019. Canucks management hopes the crowds return for the planned AHL team this fall, and early returns are positive. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Canucks: ‘Incredible’ early interest for Abbotsford AHL tickets

Team has had a strong response to both e-mail information and priority ticket lists

Red dot shows location where fisherman was rescued by boater on Friday, May 7, 2021. Other fisher still missing presumed drowned after boat swamped on Fraser River near Vedder/Sumas confluence. Rescued man swam to shore after boat sank, while friend is still classified as missing as of May 10. (City of Chilliwack map)
Fisherman still missing after boat flipped on the Fraser River

One man made it out, other still missing, after anchor got snagged in the Fraser near Chilliwack

Corina Rochon has been working the front lines of the pandemic in the intensive care unit at Abbotsford Regional Hospital. She is also an instructor in the nursing program at University of the Fraser Valley.
Pandemic the most challenging of Abbotsford nurse’s 16-year career

Corina Rochon works front lines at Abbotsford Regional Hospital

Joan Septembre went for a weekend hike at Lindeman Lake, parking next to a vehicle that had two windows smashed in. (submitted photo)
Thieves active at Lindeman Lake and other parking spots along Chilliwack Lake Road

The hiking community is lamenting an uptick in car theft and vandalism as the weather gets nicer

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald pauses while speaking during a news conference in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘We will do everything we can,’ B.C. police say to reassure public amid gang violence

Active officers in the Lower Mainland, including those from the Integrated Homicide Investigations Team, are being recruited to an ‘inactive potential future police service’

Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about phase two in B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
All of B.C. will eventually ease out of COVID-19 restrictions at same time: Henry

People who have received two doses of a vaccine can’t yet return to post-pandemic activities with each other, she says

Winnipeg Jets’ Andrew Copp (9) and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) watch an incoming shot during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, April 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
‘Very jealous’: Canadian teams can’t take advantage of NHL’s relaxed COVID-19 rules

League eased some tight COVID-19 health and safety protocols over the weekend for fully vaccinated clubs

A map of Huu-ay-aht-owned forestry cutblock. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
B.C. First Nations restrict access to territory in wake of forestry standoffs

Huu-ay-aht set up checkpoints after heated and dangerous incidents on southwest Vancouver Island

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add 6 seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read