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

Kronfi N, Dussault C, Maheu-Giroux M, Halavrezos A, Chalifoux S, and Sherman J, Park, H, Del Balso L, Cheng MP, Poulin S, Cox J. Seroprevalence and Risk Factors for SARS-CoV-2 Among Incarcerated Adult Men in Quebec, Canada (2021): A Cross-Sectional Study. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2022 (in press).

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

Congregate settings (such as prisons, long-term care homes) have provided opportunities for COVID-19 to flourish. As part of her CITF-funded work recently released in a Lancet preprint, therefore not yet peer reviewed, Dr. Nadine Kronfli from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre found that the number of incarcerated men at three provincial prisons in Quebec with antibodies due to a SARS-CoV-2 infection was two times higher than among nonvaccinated individuals in the Montreal area.

Key findings:

  • Among the 1,100 study participants, 246 (22%) individuals tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection between January and September 2021.
  • Factors associated with being seropositive included the amount of time spent in prison, employment during incarceration, meal consumption in shared spaces, and incarceration in a facility following a previous outbreak.

The prisons surveyed for this study account for 45% of Quebec’s provincial prison population. In addition to providing SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests (via traditional blood draws using needles), participants completed questionnaires on sociodemographic and clinical characteristics as well as details about their prison terms.

Dr. Kronfli and her co-authors emphasize the importance of measures to reduce prison populations during pandemics in order to lessen crowding and the risk of disease transmission. Additionally, the authors stress the importance of incorporating multiple preventative interventions such as occupational safety measures, conversion of cells into single occupancy, and the promotion of vaccination within correctional facilities.