Dr. Laura Cowen is leading a team of researchers working to develop a tool that aims to find hidden COVID-19 cases in the community. (Provided by the Victoria Hospitals Foundation)

Dr. Laura Cowen is leading a team of researchers working to develop a tool that aims to find hidden COVID-19 cases in the community. (Provided by the Victoria Hospitals Foundation)

Victoria research team developing tool to find ‘hidden’ COVID cases

New model will allow for early detection of second wave

A team of researchers in Victoria is working on a tool that aims to find hidden COVID-19 cases in the community.

Dr. Laura Cowen, principal investigator and associate professor in UVic’s department of mathematics and statistics, said that by estimating the number of undetected cases, researchers gain a better understanding of the spread of the current wave and the underlying spread of a future wave.

READ ALSO: View Royal teen inspired by pandemic creates thermal camera from scratch

“Our mathematical model will allow the detection of early signals that a future wave has begun, and identify infections among high-risk groups such as the elderly, school children, and long-term care clients,” she said.

Using Island Health data, the team will adapt the current contact tracing tool to pinpoint locations where COVID-19 infections may inadvertently be transferred to vulnerable populations. The new modeling tool takes into account the virus’s peak viral load of seven days before symptoms occur, through a ‘multiverse’ approach to track people’s movements during a period where they’re infectious but not feeling sick yet.

READ ALSO: Safety won’t be compromised for vaccine, Canada’s top doctors say

For example, researchers tracking the scenario of a home care worker with a ‘hidden’ case, two children at home and who dine out once a week, will be able to better rate the risk by layering this ‘what if’ information into the mathematical model. When finished, the model will predict the transmission rate associated with relaxing public health measures with greater precision.

This work is possible thanks to a $149,300 award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) COVID-19 Research Response Fund and the Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s donors. The community can help support health care research on Vancouver Island, including projects focused on COVID-19, by donating to the Victoria Hospitals Foundation at victoriahf.ca/research.

Victoria Hospitals Foundation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow, a kitten belonging to a Victoria family, was rescued by firefighters on Thursday after she got stuck in a basement drain pipe. (City of Victoria/Twitter)
Victoria kitten stuck in basement drain pipe rescued by firefighters

Willow the cat on the mend, owner feeling ‘enormous gratitude’

(Black Press Media file photo)
Blue-green algae bloom confirmed in Elk Lake, water-based activities not recommended

Blue-green algae can be lethal to dogs, cause health issues for humans

Victoria police arrested a man Jan. 15 after he rammed his minivan into an occupied police vehicle. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria man arrested for ramming minivan into occupied police vehicle

Man caught after fleeing, crashing into cement retaining wall

Mayor Rob Martin and Costa Canna president Phil Floucault cut the ribbon on Colwood’s first cannabis retail store. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Cowichan Tribes’ Costa Canna cannabis store opens in Colwood

Cowichan Tribes has one-year deal to grow, sell cannabis

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Most Read