COVID-19 Antibody Testing on Cormorant Island

Summary Report 2020

In March and April of 2020, Cormorant Island experienced a cluster of 30 COVID-19 infections, including one death.

Mayor of Alert Bay Dennis Buchanan and Elected Chief of ‘Namgis First Nation Don Svanvik made a request to Island Health for COVID-19 antibody testing. The goal was to understand the true impact of COVID-19 on the community.

COVID-19 antibody testing was provided in the Rec Centre between June 24 and June 27. Over 500 residents provided a blood sample and completed a short survey.

19 residents (3.7%) tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, meaning that they were previously infected with the COVID-19 virus and their body made antibodies against the virus. When including those residents that did not participate, the total percent increases from 3.7% to 4.8%.

Residents with COVID-19 antibodies were younger, and a greater percentage identified as Indigenous compared to residents without COVID-19 antibodies. This matches what was seen in the COVID-19 cluster.

Most residents with COVID-19 antibodies had symptoms, the most common were chills, cough, headache, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Having chills was the most predictive of a positive COVID-19 antibody result.

Of the 19 residents with COVID-19 antibodies, 13 were known COVID-19 cases, 1 was someone who was a close contact of a known COVID-19 case, and 5 were not known to be cases or close contacts of a case. Transmission in the community was very limited.

For residents that had both the COVID-19 antibody test and the COVID-19 nose swab, the results always agreed (both positive or both negative).

Facebook was reported by residents as the most useful method to receive COVID-19 information. Travel restrictions on the ferry and physical distancing were the methods that residents thought were most helpful in reducing COVID-19 spread.

Most residents are very concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the health of the community, and this has changed little over time.

Overall, spread of COVID-19 in the community was very limited. The community remains vulnerable to COVID-19. Continuing to follow public health advice is very important.

For questions contact:
Courtney R. Smith, MPH
Field Epidemiologist