Searching for COVID-19 antibodies in children

Image: Image of children in a classroom
Searching for COVID-19 antibodies in children

With children now back at school, a critical question is what role they play in COVID-19 transmission.

British Columbian researcher Dr. Manish Sadarangani hopes to provide further clues to this question in coming months. With funding from the MSFHR COVID-19 Research Response Fund, Dr. Sadarangani and his research team at the University of British Columbia have launched a study to establish how many children and young adults (under the age of 25) across the province carry COVID-19 antibodies in their bloodstream.

The research team aims to shed light on how many children have already been infected with COVID-19, regardless of whether they exhibited symptoms – a key piece of scientific knowledge to inform public policy on schools and other children-related functions. Similar studies are being conducted across Canada and the world as part of the global research movement to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To search for the Y-shaped antibody proteins, Dr. Sadarangani’s team will mail several thousand antibody testing kits to children and young adults across British Columbia this fall. The team will also send a companion survey to ask parents about their children’s exposure risks – such as if they are being compliant with distancing guidelines and mask wearing, and whether they go to school or work and their modes of transportation.   

The research team will analyze the samples from serological tests to zero in on how many children in British Columbia already have COVID-19 antibodies. The team will take a step further to see if any patterns of infection emerge among different population groups.

Dr. Sadarangani’s team will soon start recruiting for participants among the five different age categories (under five, five to nine, 10 to 14, 15 to 19 and 20 to 24 years of age). Those interested in participating can email vecstudies@bcchr.ubc.ca.

Launched on April 6, 2020, the MSFHR COVID-19 Research Response Fund supports urgent research needs important to British Columbia that have arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding is just one part of a coordinated British Columbian health research approach involving assets that support health research as well as innovative, cross-disciplinary researchers and teams.

As the provincial health research funding agency, MSFHR is committed to enabling responsive, relevant research to support British Columbia’s efforts surrounding the pandemic and ensuring that the health research community has the resources it needs to continue doing world-class research during a time of rapid and inequitable change. Learn more about MSFHR's COVID-19 Research Response