Amid widespread criticism of Canada’s COVID-19 testing strategy, experts say health agencies should look towards a widely used method to determine who has been infected and who hasn’t: blood tests.

Serological tests, or blood tests, can identify whether a person has been exposed to a particular pathogen, like the new coronavirus, by looking at their immune response, Dawn Bowdish, Canada Research Chair in aging and immunity at McMaster University, said.

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And while the tests can’t detect early infections, they could identify asymptomatic cases or people who had mild infections but were never diagnosed — filling in the gaps to help create a better understanding of Canada’s epidemic, Bowdish said.

“They are absolutely the gold standard for understanding the spread of this infection,” she said.

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When the COVID-19 outbreak ends, researchers across the country will look to see how many people were truly infected with the virus to help better plan for the next outbreak. Blood tests “are extremely important” for this modelling,