Combating COVID-19 on a population level

Combating COVID-19 on a population level

The BC Centre for Disease Control is engaging in critical public health research on COVID-19 in BC, and gifts to our Emergency Response Fund are making that possible. The BCCDC’s work will prevent the spread of the virus, help save lives, and protect British Columbians. This new research project, led by Dr Réka Gustafson and Dr Jat Sandhu, is a three-phase, BC-wide initiative to protect us on a population level.

Learn more about how our provincial experts are keeping you safe, and exactly what your donations are going towards.

Phase 1: BC COVID-19 Population Health Survey

The BC COVID-19 SPEAK survey is open to all British Columbians who are 18 and older, and is a tool to help public health experts understand public risk perceptions, personal behaviours and circumstances, acceptability of public health measures, and broader impacts of COVID-19—including social, economic, physical health, mental wellness, and resiliency of communities.

This coordinated effort, led by the BCCDC, engages with the Ministry of Health and each of the health authorities to ensure that British Columbians from all corners of the province, and from all backgrounds, are included and represented. The results of this survey will help us better understand COVID-19, and inform public health strategies to keep us safe and healthy.

Phase 2: BC COVID-19 Serological Survey

Until a vaccine is developed and deployed, herd immunity is our population’s protection against COVID-19. Through serological (blood) sampling, our public health experts will be able to determine susceptibility and immunity within the general population, telling us how close or far we are from herd immunity. We’ll be able to assess and better understand transmission, and determine how much of our population is vulnerable, or immune from the virus.

Experts will also be able to assess the risk of spread among subgroups, including those who are particularly vulnerable or high-risk, as well as those who may be better protected, such as children.

Phase 3: BC COVID-19 Sentinel Surveillance

This is the work that will keep our population safe from future waves of COVID-19 and help us prepare for future pandemics. This type of surveillance will act as an early warning system for any increases in community transmission. To be launched in the fall, this will be particularly important as flu season begins—being able to rapidly identify, contain, and suppress cases of COVID-19 will protect us at a point in time when there is an increase in other respiratory illnesses (like the flu).

This type of surveillance is critical to alerting public health professionals, and allowing them to engage in rapid response wrap-around public health services keeping you, your family, and your community safe.


These are the strategies and approaches that we need to keep all of us safe and healthy for the long run. Public health’s value is three-fold: preventing illness and injury before it happens, understanding diseases and the human impact, and finding solutions that work not only for individuals, but on a population-level. This three-phased collaborative approach is what BC needs now, as we continue to be all in together, and until we can take back normal.


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