COVID-19 Diary – Day 216

COVID-19 Antibody Spike in Tokyo

A pre-print study on the seroprevalence of COVID-19 antibodies in Tokyo is turning more than a few heads since its late September release. The study followed 615 outwardly healthy volunteers across 11 locations, all employed by the same company, 350 of whom submitted to 2 tests each with about a month between them. For the group that submitted to 2 tests, during the time between them, 21.4% of people who initially tested negative for COVID-19 antibodies later tested positive for them. The overall group saw their seropositivity rate jump from 5.8% to 46.8% over the Summer.

Several limitations are cited for this study, including:

  • The test subjects all came from a single company in Tokyo, not the general population.
  • No medical details or behavioural information was collected from volunteers, which could have led to a cross-exposure investigation.
  • Volunteers were tested at most twice, at 1-month intervals only

The study also suggests that future studies should consider evaluating possible reasons for the increase of specifically asymptomatic infections. Some theorized possible reasons for this could be lifestyle and behavioural habits, a specific viral strain, the widespread use of masks in Japan, or even immunological memory from similar viruses. While this study doesn’t give us a lot of answers, it raises many interesting questions that can hopefully be followed upon. One such question is notably: Why was there such a jump in seropositivity in Tokyo when places like New York and Sweden have seen only fractions of those numbers?

Getting Tested for COVID-19

On a more personal note, after developing symptoms potentially indicative of COVID-19 over last weekend, I recently got to experience what it’s like being tested for the virus, and want to share some of that experience with you, so you will know what to expect if it happens to you.

After developing shortness of breath and irregular fatigue over the weekend I called 811, the free medical advice line, to determine my next steps. They went over a series of questions with me: Are you a healthcare worker, are you homeless, have you been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus, and then a list of possible symptoms. After answering everything they told me I should get tested, and told me I had options in Coquitlam, Richmond, or Burnaby. I live in New Westminster, so I was happy with the Burnaby option. They told me to visit and make an appointment with them.

Booking the appointment was very simple, and I was offered a selection of appointment times I could choose. I opted for the earliest time on the earliest date (Monday at 3pm). One of my roommates also was concerned about possible symptoms and booked an appointment at the same time as mine for convenience.

We were told not to arrive early, but despite our best efforts we still ended up sitting on a bench outside for 10 minutes. The actual testing process was surprisingly quick. The team of healthcare workers were extremely professional and reassuring during the process, and everyone seemed quite calm (workers and those being tested alike). The nasal swab was uncomfortable but not nearly as bad as I had been expecting. I attribute this in at least in part to the experience and care taken by those administering it. Afterwards, we were given sheets of paper detailing how to isolate, how to get our results, and what to do after. We were told our results would take 2-4 days, and we could first check for them on Wednesday.

What I did, and what I recommend everyone should do in this situation, is sign up for receiving their results by text message. This reduces the need for people to physically make phone calls to inform you, and eases the load being put on our public health team. You can sign up to get your test results through the BC CDC website.

This is an example of the message you will receive if you test negative. I believe you will always receive a phone call if you test positive. However, both my roommate and I tested negative.

So if you are questioning if symptoms you are experiencing might be related to COVID-19, don’t be afraid to go through the process to get tested, it’s definitely better to be safe than to be sorry. And I promise you will absolutely cherish the moments of leaving the house even just to go grocery shopping afterwards!

That’s all for now, stay safe everyone!

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