The GNWT will soon be testing blood samples from NWT residents to look for any antibodies that developed naturally from infection and immunization to the virus that causes COVID-19.
Blood samples will be collected from as far back as April of this year. The Chief Public Health Officer will be working with the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority, Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority, and Tłı̨chǫ Community Services Agency.
The samples will be kept anonymous, and will only be identified by the donor’s age, as well as the date the sample was taken, and the region it was taken from. Any names or other identifying factors will be removed. This will ensure that no individual donor’s information is available.
The samples will then be sent to the Canadian Blood Services. Once there, they will be tested for antibodies against COVID-19. Antibodies are produced naturally by the body to fight off infections. this study will be looking to determine if any antibodies were produced after a subject was infected with COVID-19, or after they received one of the vaccines.
Like other regions of Canada, the NWT is no longer tracking individual cases of COVID-19. Instead, the NWT is tracking severe outcomes of COVID-19 (hospitalizations, ICU admissions, deaths) and monitoring wastewater for changes over time (7-day periods) to detect high or increasing levels of COVID-19 activity in a community. Surveying blood samples will be another way to monitor and assess the impact of COVID-19 to optimize health-system planning.
The NWT will be conducting more research into any severe COVID incidents that may have occurred after significant events throughout the year. These events include the lifting of the public health emergency in April, and the Spring wave of the Omicron variant in June.