This is a summary, written by members of the CITF Secretariat, of
Anand SS, Arnold C, Bangdiwala S, Bolotin S, Bowdish D, Chanchlani R, de Souza R, Desai D, Kandasamy S, Khan F, Khan Z, Langlois M-A, Limbachia J, Lear S, Loeb M, Loh L, Manoharan B, Nakka K, Pelchat M, Punthakee Z, Schulze K, Williams N, Wahi G. What factors converged to create a COVID-19 hot-spot? Lessons from the South Asian community in Ontario. medRxiv. 2022 Apr 1. Doi: 10.1101/2022.04.01.22273252.
The results and/or conclusions contained in the research do not necessarily reflect the views of all CITF members.
Nearly a quarter (23.6%) of a sample of South Asians living primarily in Ontario’s Peel Region1 had evidence of prior infection with SARS-CoV-2 by the end of the third viral wave in July 2021. In a pre-print, not yet peer reviewed, Dr. Sonia Anand from McMaster University expands on the factors that render this region a hot spot for COVID-19, including the high concentration of people whose jobs required that they work in person during the pandemic and multi-generational family homes.
- Among 916 South Asian2 individuals included in the study, of whom over 90% live in the Peel region, 23.6% had evidence of a previous infection with SARS-CoV-2.
- Half (50%) of participants were not yet vaccinated by July 2021 and, of these, 26.9% had evidence of a previous infection with the virus.
- Among the other half of participants who had received at least one vaccine dose by July 2021, 21.3% had evidence of a previous infection.
- Among those who were seropositive, more than half (53%) did not report having had a previous infection.
- Among participants who completed the questionnaire:
- 33% identified as essential workers (i.e., food processing, manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, education, etc.);
- 19% reported living in multi-generational family homes;
- Over 50% reported their risk of catching COVID-19 as ‘high’ due to high rates in the community;
- Over a third (36%) reported being at high risk of infection due to their employment;
- The top three trusted sources of information for COVID-19 they identified were: healthcare providers and/or public health officials, traditional media sources (e.g., news outlets), and social media.
Over half of residents in the Peel Region of the Greater Toronto Area identify as South Asian Canadians, which also represents the largest non-white ethno-cultural group in Canada. Individuals identifying as South Asian were recruited into the study between April 14 and July 28, 2021, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, and completed a dried blood spot kit with a sociodemographic questionnaire.
The above results stem the COVID CommUNITY – South Asian study, which is ongoing.
1 This value is age-sex standardized to population numbers for South Asians in Ontario (Stat Can Census 2016); as are the other reported sero-positive values.
2 For the purposes of this study, South Asian ethnicity was self-reported and defined by parental South Asian ancestry from the Indian subcontinent, Africa, Caribbean, and Guyana.