Phase 4 of BC’s Restart Plan requires community immunity but seroprevalence studies of people who are street entrenched, in prison, or live in remote or rural communities is challenging. The most accurate serology tests are lab-based Enzyme-Linked Immuno Assays (EIAs) that use blood drawn from veins, but with people who are not engaged into care, or who have collapsed veins due injection drug use or obesity, it’s not a viable option. Point-of-care tests (PoCT) that use blood collected through finger prick (like a glucose test) seems to offer a solution but these tests lack specificity and therefore can’t provide an accurate picture. We propose evaluating dried blood spot (DBS) which seems to offer the accuracy of EIAs and the ease of collection of a PoCT to determine BC seroprevalence.
Infectious diseases remain a serious and constant threat despite the high standards of sanitation and health care enjoyed by the British Columbians. Moreover, British Columbians, living in a major port of entry to Canada, face an increased risk of contact with emerging infectious diseases as exemplified by SARS. An effective disease surveillance system requires multiple health organizations to work together and share information with each other. Advances in genomic technology have improved the detection and characterization of disease-causing microbes and provide public health practitioners a better surveillance tool. Yet, genomic data is voluminous and complex, creating a challenge for our health care system and practitioners. Moreover, contextual data needed to interpret genomic data often contain sensitive and private information making sharing of contextual data across jurisdictions a challenge.
Dr. Hsiao's research program builds innovative technology solutions to improve organizational efficiency, trust, and capacity of BC's public health surveillance network. Our work will stop the spread of diseases, reduce the overall disease burden and health care cost, and ultimately improve the health and well-being of British Columbians.