A ground-breaking report reveals that many minors who tested negative or have been asymptomatic to COVID-19 may have been infected with the virus without realizing it.
The study named Encore, issued by the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, conducted a study on 1,632 children and adolescents in schools and daycares in Montreal and found on average 5.8 per cent carried the antibodies to COVID-19.
But most of those with antibodies had tested negative to COVID-19 or were never tested suggesting that many more youths may have been infected with the virus than what’s being publicly reported.
“I think there’s a lot of cases that we don’t know about,” Erin Morehouse, mother of four and whose children participated in the study, told Global News.
The report also concludes that the number of minors who had the antibodies increased significantly between October of 2020 and April of this year, an indicator that transmission levels were on the rise in schools and the community.
“We saw an increase in time which is not unexpected given the increase transmission that we saw over the winter and spring with children,” Dr. Kate Zinszer, the lead researcher of the report and researcher at the Centre de recherche en santé publique, told Global News.
The report also shows that the number of antibodies was higher in areas that were hard hit by COVID-19, such as Montréal Nord.
“COVID has been hitting marginalized populations more,” Dr. Caroline Quach, Sainte-Justine Hospital Microbiologist and Immunologist, told Global News.
The Legault government is hoping to vaccinate all 12- to 17-year-olds with at least the first dose before the beginning of the next school year.
Microbiologists consider this a major step toward containing the spread of the virus, especially with the more contagious variants still present.
“Make schools safer, make recreational activities safer in groups and also us get to that point of herd immunity,” Dr. Jesse Papenburg, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, told Global News.