Trinidad and Tobago covid19 antibody study to start soon

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this file photo, masked shoppers crowd Charlotte Street, Port of Spain. Photo by Sureash Cholai

The Ministry of Health will soon start a seroprevalence scientific study to determine the percentage of people – from a small group within the population – who have developed antibodies against covid19.

This comes just before the second anniversary of the report of the country’s first covid19 cases on March 12, 2020.

At last week’s virtual press conference, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh, announcing plans to start the study, said it will give the ministry a better understanding of how protected the population is as it edges closer to the endemic period of the virus.

The study will be done in collaboration with the Pan-American Health Organization and UWI.

Since the ministry is still going through the proposal for the study, it was unable to say what percentage of the population will be targeted for this exercise. But immunologist Dr Carla Marie Alexander said the team is analysing what percentage is necessary to have “statistically significant” survey results.

A seroprevalence study involves collecting and examinating blood samples from a percentage of a population with antibodies to an infection.

The study will pay particular attention to determining whether or not any antibodies to fight covid19 were created through exposure to the virus or with the help of a vaccine.

The process includes using antibody samples to assess and estimate the level of immunity a person acquires from exposure to the virus, as opposed to the level of immunity when vaccinated with a covid19 vaccine.

Alexander said, “The benefit of the seroprevalence study was to fill in the knowledge gaps that we have regarding how many persons in the country have immunity towards SARS-coV 2.”

She went on to explain exactly how this study will be done.

“We are going to retrieve blood samples from participants and then test them for the presence of antibodies (to fight covid19). It’s either they are going to have them or they are not. We are going to be utilising a sample population, and in that, you will either have persons who have the presence of antibodies or do not.

“This will be a representation of the larger population of TT. So it will be a small sample of persons participating in the study to represent the larger population.”