Hamilton researchers join study of COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness on South Asian community

Hamilton researchers are set to be a part of Canadian study into the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines on the country’s South Asian community.

The study, which will receive $1.5 million from the Canadian government, will be procured by Ottawa’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force and will probe vaccine confidence and hesitancy in a population that’s been tagged by the federal government as “disproportionally affected” by the coronavirus.

Hamilton Health Sciences vascular physician and professor of medicine at McMaster University Sonia Anand says the survey will encompass 3,000 South Asians in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Greater Vancouver (GVA) and will study unique socio-cultural factors and its effects on that group in terms of susceptibility and response to infection and vaccination.

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“Our study is a prospective cohort study, meaning we enroll participants at the community vaccination clinics being held in South Asian ‘hot spots’ such as Brampton, and the rest of the GTA, and follow them forward in time to collect contextual information including their living and work conditions, clinical and health care access information,” said Anand.

The task force and the Public Health Agency of Canada say the country’s South Asian communities are among the highest at-risk populations for illness from COVID-19.

The group has a five- to 10-fold higher risk of getting a coronavirus infection, and up to a two-fold higher mortality risk after contracting the affliction compared to white Canadians.

“It is critical that we increase vaccine uptake for all Canadians, but we know that the South Asian community will need specific attention and targeted outreach, particularly given the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on this ethnocultural community,” said Lawrence Loh, co-investigator and medical officer of health in Peel Region.

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“This study will allow us to understand where there is hesitancy, use the science to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccines, and lead to more people within the South Asian community making the choice to accept this life-saving vaccine.”

A total of eight researchers from seven different areas of study at McMaster University will take part in the project.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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