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

Xia Y, Ma H, Moloney G, Velásquez García HA, Sirski M, Janjua NZ, Vickers D, Williamson T, Katz A, Yu K, Kustra R, Buckeridge DL, Brisson M, Baral SD, Mishra S, Maheu-Giroux M, 2021. Geographical concentration of COVID-19 cases by social determinants of health in 16 large metropolitan areas in Canada – a cross-sectional study. medRxiv 2021.07.23.21261039; doi:10.1101/2021.07.23.21261039

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

COVID-19 has not affected all Canadian communities equally. A growing body of literature is highlighting the inequalities in communities with high rates of COVID-19. In a recent pre-print, therefore not yet peer reviewed, researchers from across Canada, including CITF Scientific Lead for Data Management and Analysis Dr. David Buckeridge and CITF-funded researcher Tyler Williamson, have explored the geographical distribution of cases by area-level social determinants of health across 16 metropolitan areas in four Canadian provinces.

Key Points:

  • Geographical hotspots related to social determinants were identified early in the pandemic in urban centers across Canada. These areas continued to experience high numbers of COVID-19 cases throughout the pandemic.
  • Individuals testing positive for COVID-19 were disproportionately concentrated in areas of lower income, education attainment, and suitable housing; these included a higher proportion of visible minorities, recent immigrants, and essential workers.

Using provincial surveillance data linked with census data, researchers analyzed positive COVID-19 cases by census metropolitan areas (CMAs) in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Québec, areas that make up 79% of COVID-19 cases in Canada, as of July 8, 2021. The areas identified as COVID-19 hotspots within the CMAs were largely defined along social determinants related to occupation, income, housing, and other markers for structural racism.

The authors recommend targeted allocation of resources and services such as testing and immunization campaigns that are tailored to specific communities. Programs should address the social determinants in communities that are disproportionately affected.