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A study of the prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies amongst children has started at the University of Alberta.

About 1,000 children are undergoing ongoing serologic tests to help scientists estimate how many youth have been exposed to COVID-19 and how that number changes over time.

Serologic testing measures antibodies in blood.

The work in Edmonton, led by Dr. Piush Mandhane of the U of A’s medicine and dentistry faculty, will look for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 infection, the coronavirus which causes the COVID-19 disease.

Antibodies are made by the body in response to an infection. Their presence in a blood test shows a person has been previously exposed to the virus.

In June, the provincial government announced $10 million in funding for Mandhane’s research, as well as three other serology testing projects.

Over two years, Mandhane’s team will receive $700,000 from the Alberta government.

The COVID-19 antibody study is part of another project launched in 2008 by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the federally funded national research network AllerGen NCE.

The project, called the CHILD Cohort Study, is tracking about 3,500 Canadian children in Alberta, B.C., Manitoba and Ontario from birth to school age with a focus on determining root causes of chronic diseases like asthma, obesity and allergies. ​