Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) is supporting a new study to identify how many Canadians have been previously infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The project, conducted by Statistics Canada, will be the first to use a nationally representative sample to reflect COVID-19 seroprevalence right across Canada at national, provincial, and territorial levels.
The Government of Canada is investing $7 million through the CITF in the Canadian COVID-19 Antibody and Health Survey. It involves sending test kits and surveys to 48,000 Canadians ages 1 and up, at their homes, in all 10 provinces and three territories. The objective is to assess how many Canadians have had COVID-19, and whether they had symptoms or not.
“Earlier studies from healthy blood donors in May suggested that under 1% of Canadians had had COVID-19, but this is likely higher now,” says CITF Co-Chair Catherine Hankins. “The StatCan study will involve Canadians from childhood right throughout the life course from rural as well as urban settings to provide reliable general population estimates for provinces and territories amidst a second wave.”
“The Canadian COVID-19 Antibody and Health Survey draws on the established world-class expertise of Statistics Canada in delivering insight through data for a better Canada,” states Anil Arora, Chief Statistician, Statistics Canada. “We are grateful for the participation of Canadians who have been invited to take part in this survey as their involvement will help Canada obtain the additional evidence to better respond to COVID-19.”
“As we live through a current COVID-19 resurgence, this study will provide a unique opportunity to survey and randomly test Canadians, giving us a reliable snapshot of how many people have had COVID-19,” states Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. “This study will give us important information on how much transmission there has been, in which parts of the country, and among which populations. We will then use this information, with the provinces and territories, to further inform the public health response to COVID-19 across Canada.”
Statistics Canada has already begun contacting Canadians to participate in the study and will be mailing out more surveys and test kits in the coming months. Researchers are choosing participants based on a formula determined to get the most representative sample for the study’s goals, and therefore people not approached cannot volunteer for the study. Participants will need to fill out an online questionnaire which asks sociodemographic questions as well as information on COVID-19 exposure, experiences, and symptoms. Participants will then need to take a finger prick sample (also known as dried blood spot test), in order to ascertain whether they have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, suggesting a previous COVID-19 infection. Participants will be able to learn their results, along with information on what is known about antibody testing.
About Statistics Canada
Statistics Canada produces statistics that help Canadians better understand their country—its population, resources, economy, society and culture. In addition to conducting a Census every five years, there are about 350 active surveys on virtually all aspects of Canadian life. Statistics Canada has accelerated data collection in response to the urgent need for information to help the country respond to, and recover from, the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.
Statistics Canada is highly committed to protecting the confidentiality of all information it collects and to ensuring that the information we deliver is timely, high quality and relevant to Canadians.
About the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force
The Government of Canada launched the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) in late April 2020 to track the spread of the virus in both the general population and priority populations in Canada. The Task Force also aims to shed light on immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 in a diversity of communities, age brackets, populations, and occupational groups across the nation. To generate this information, the Task Force is drawing on experts from universities and hospitals across Canada, working closely with provincial and territorial public health officials, and engaging communities/stakeholders from inception through to dissemination of findings. For more information visit: www.covid19immunitytaskforce.ca
COVID-19 Immunity Task Force
Statistics Canada – Media Relations