Statistics Canada is mailing pinprick blood tests to 48,000 Canadians to gauge the virus’ prevalence in the country.
In what is one of the first large-scale surveys of its kind in Canada, researchers are examining the blood samples for antibodies pertaining to the virus that causes COVID-19.
“While this is a voluntary survey, your participation is important as your contribution will play an important part in understanding past infections by measuring the prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies amongst Canadians, including those who have never had symptoms,” Statistics Canada wrote in a brochure.
Each participant will first be asked to fill out an online questionnaire. Upon giving consent, a testing kit will be mailed to that person’s address.
The sampling tests sent randomly to Canadians include gloves, a needle, alcohol swabs and sealable package. The participants will be asked to prick their finger and make a print on each of five markings on a dried blood card.
The blood samples will be sent to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg for analysis.
The antibody test specifically determines whether an individual has had COVID-19 previously, opposed to someone who has an active case of the virus.
Participants in return will also receive a copy of their lab reports, provided with their test result and other health information, according to the survey. The results will also identify whether the antibodies were the result of receiving a vaccine.
Canadians will also be asked to consent to sharing the information they provide with Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and provincial and territorial ministries of health.
Due to the number of COVID-19 cases that go unreported, a survey of this kind is one of the ways health officials are able to get clearer sense of the pandemic in Canada.
Only Statistics Canada employees will perform data linkage. The survey will continue through March.
“All linked data will remain confidential under the Statistics Act. We will not provide any information about you to the ministry of health in your province, territory or to any other organization,” Statistics Canada said.