Residents of long-term care facilities are at increased risk for serious outcomes from COVID-19.
Now, a new study, led by researchers from UBC’s faculty of medicine, Providence Health Care, Simon Fraser University and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, will investigate how elderly peoples’ immune systems respond to COVID-19 vaccines.
The researchers will also assess the viral, immunological, and social factors that have contributed to COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities, studying why the disease has been fatal to so many residents.
“We will be collecting blood samples from residents and staff of long-term care facilities in British Columbia before vaccination, when possible, and then take more blood samples periodically after vaccination,” says the study’s lead researcher Dr. Marc Romney, clinical associate professor in UBC’s department of pathology and laboratory medicine and medical leader for medical microbiology and virology at St. Paul’s Hospital, Providence Health Care.
“For those who have already been vaccinated, we will be assessing vaccine-induced immunity over time, using innovative and emerging laboratory tests. What we learn in this study will inform stakeholders on how best to protect individuals who live and work in long-term care facilities from COVID-19, prevent future outbreaks, and hopefully save lives,” adds Dr. Romney.
“What we learn in this study will inform stakeholders on how best to protect individuals who live and work in long-term care facilities from COVID-19, prevent future outbreaks, and hopefully save lives.”
Dr. Marc Romney
The study is one of two receiving funding from the Government of Canada, via its COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF), to investigate how the immune systems of elderly residents and staff in these facilities respond to COVID-19 infection and vaccination. More than $2M has been provided to support these studies in B.C. and Alberta.
“These studies will contribute to our understanding of COVID-19 vaccine-induced immunity in seniors living in long-term care facilities, who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” states Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam. “Vaccines are critical to limiting the spread of COVID-19, and this research will support their most effective use.”
A version of this story originally appeared on the CITF website.