EDMONTON -- Alberta is the first Canadian province to launch serology testing, which will help scientists understand how many people have been infected by COVID-19.

“That's why I'm pleased to announce today that our government is investing $10 million into targeted serology testing to help track the spread of COVID-19,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said.

The study will start in July with a select group of children and then adults, testing for antibodies to show if they have previously been infected by the novel coronavirus.

“As we’ve learned, many people that get infected either have no symptoms, or they have such mild symptoms they don’t bother to get tested,” said Dr. Joan Robinson, a pediatric infectious disease specialist.

“There is estimates that as many as ten times as many people may have been infected as the ones that have been truly been diagnosed,” she said.

Over 600 children already enrolled in previously studies will be tested every six months for the next two years. Researchers said it will help determine if having the virus can prevent reinfection.

“We don’t want people thinking that because they have antibodies they can go out and do whatever they want.”

Test results from July will start coming in by October. Robinson said the information will be helpful for parents who might be sending their children back to school in the fall.

“It will be very intersecting to see by December how many of these kids have already been infected with or without symptoms.”

The ultimate goal of serology testing is helping public health officials plan for future healthcare needs.

“It’s unrealistic to think we are suddenly going to have 7.5 billion doses of vaccine to immunize every single person on the planet, so at some point we might have to come up with priorities.” 

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Dave Mitchell