Very Low COVID-19 Spread in Vancouver Schools in 2021: Facts – BC | The Canadian News

The vast majority of Vancouver students and staff who tested positive for COVID-19 last year were infected outside of the school setting, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia analyzed data on student and staff cases identified by public health officials within the Vancouver School District. Between April and June 2021, the team also tested the blood of nearly 1,700 teachers in the district and closely tracked student and staff contracts.

Sixty-nine cases of the virus were identified between kindergarten and grade 12, and of the 229 close contacts identified for those individuals, only three tested positive. Two of them were detected through asymptomatic tests.

Ninety percent of transmission took place outside of schools, said Dr. Pascal Lavoie, a pediatrician at BC Children’s Hospital and a professor at UBC.

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“The data … is all very consistent,” he told Global News.

“Children don’t stop having social interactions outside of school. That’s the piece that people don’t necessarily take into account when (saying) there are so many cases in schools.”

Of the 69 COVID-19 cases detected by the team, 94 percent were students and 6 percent among staff.

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The research team compared their findings with Canadian Blood Services data on the rate of antibody test positivity among Vancouverites by age, gender and ZIP code. The positivity rate of teachers who had been tested was no different than the general population, Lavoie said.

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“He was more tied to his area of ​​residence, where the teachers lived, than where they worked.”

The study, published by the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, has not yet been peer-reviewed.

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Antibody blood tests were also conducted in the Surrey and Delta school districts, but that data has not yet been released. The researchers did not conduct contact tracing at those schools.

As a result of the Vancouver findings, however, Lavoie and Dr. Louise Mâsse, a UBC professor, behavioral scientist and researcher at BC Children’s Hospital, suggested that routine asymptomatic testing become part of the prevention plan. in the schools.

“Basically, there is a consensus among the pediatric community in Canada about the urgency and importance of doing everything that society can to keep schools open, in light of all these observations,” Lavoie said. “Children need to see other children.”

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The research was carried out when the Delta variant of concern began its rapid spread around the world. The team plans to continue the study to see if the patterns are the same for the Omicron variant, with tests likely to take place in the spring.

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“We will go back to schools and collect blood from teachers again from those three school districts,” Lavoie said.

“The longer we wait, the more likely we are to get the full infection. No hurry.

The COVID-19 Immunity Task Force was launched by the federal government in 2020 to catalyze and fund research on the pandemic that can be used by decision makers across the country.

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