This is a summary, written by members of the CITF Secretariat, of:

Allen UD, Barton M, Upton J, Bailey A, Campigotto A, Abdulnoor M, Julien JP, Gubbay J, Kissoon N, Litosh A, La Neve R, Wong P, Allen A, Bailey R, Byrne W, Jagoowani R, Phillips C, Merreles-Pulcini M, Polack A, Prescod C, Siddiqi A, Summers A, Thompson K, Thompson S, James, C. Disproportionate rates of COVID‑19 among Black Canadian communities: lessons from a cross‑sectional study in the first year of the pandemic. J Racial Eth Health Disparities. 2024 January 22; doi:

The results and/or conclusions contained in the research do not necessarily reflect the views of all CITF members.

A CITF-funded study, published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, reported on the results of serologic testing for SARS-CoV-2 infections in the Black Canadian community and found that early in the pandemic, Black Canadians had disproportionately higher rates of COVID-19 compared to white Canadians. This study was led by Dr. Upton D. Allen (The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto) and Dr. Carl James (Jean Augustine Chair, York University).

The researchers conducted a prospective cross-sectional study from August 15, 2020, to December 15, 2020, recruiting 387 Black and non-Black eligible participants from three areas of Ontario—northwest Toronto and Peel (with a higher proportion of Black residents), Oakville, and London (both with a lower proportion of Black residents). With the support of an engaged Community Advisory Group, the study was able to establish a sense of trust and rapport with the Black community. Participants were asked to fill in a questionnaire that included clinical, epidemiological, demographic, and socioeconomic information. They also provided a blood sample for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies.

Key findings:

  • Seropositivity for the overall study population was 9.6%;
  • In London and Oakville, seropositivity rates were not statistically different at 3.9% and 3.3%, respectively and were consistent with national rates in blood donors;
  • In the Northwest Toronto region, the seropositivity rate was 3.5-times greater than in London/Oakville at 12.3%;
  • Seropositivity was higher for Black individuals in Northwest Toronto at 14.4% compared to 1.5% for Black participants in London/Oakville;
  • Individuals younger than 19 were 2.5-times more likely to be seropositive compared to older age groups in the study.

The smaller sample sizes of non-white ethnic groups (South Asians, East Asians, and Hispanics) did not permit comparisons of differences. The researchers also could not assess other relevant variables such as household density. Overall, the study provided further insight on seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 among Black Canadians in COVID-19 high-prevalence areas during the early phases of the pandemic and prior to the implementation of COVID-19 vaccination. This was a significant first step in engaging Black communities in the process of generating and interpreting seroprevalence and related data, laying the foundation for future research and collaboration on community-based interventions promoting heath equity.