Canadian study examines immune response and vaccine


HAMILTON, Ontario, June 03, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – The Government of Canada, through its COVID-19 Immunity Working Group and Vaccine Surveillance Reference Group, is supporting a new pan-Canadian study that will examine the immune response to COVID-19. 19 vaccine in the South Asian community. About $ 1.5 million is being invested in this study, which will seek to understand vaccine confidence and reluctance in this population that has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

South Asian communities in Canada are the fastest growing ethnic group in Canada and are among the populations most at risk of contracting COVID-19. South Asians have a five to ten times higher risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2 and a 1.5 to two times higher risk of death after infection with SARS-CoV-2, compared to White Canadians.

The study of 3,000 South Asians from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Ontario and the Greater Vancouver Area (GVA) in British Columbia (BC) will seek to understand whether these ethnic differences can be ‘explain by unique socio-cultural factors, such as multigenerational households, occupational factors such as essential work, and biological factors such as pathophysiological differences in susceptibility or response to infection and vaccination.

Participants in the study – called COVID COMMUNITY-South Asian – will also include those from previous studies in the GTA and GVA led by the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) at McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences.

“Our study is a prospective cohort study, which means that we recruit participants from community vaccination clinics held in South Asian ‘hot spots’ such as Brampton and the rest of the GTA, and we follow up in time to gather contextual information, including their living and working conditions, information on access to clinical care and health care, ”said Sonia Anand, principal investigator of the study. Anand is Professor of Medicine at McMaster, Vascular Medicine Physician at Hamilton Health Sciences, Principal Investigator at PHRI, and Director of the Chanchlani Research Center at McMaster. “This is a more targeted approach to conducting a study, rather than ‘after the fact’ approaches, such as ethnic inference by last name or zip code in participant data,” he said. she declared.

“South Asian communities in Canada have been hit hard by the pandemic and it is essential that they understand the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. This study will also help us understand why some people may be reluctant to get the vaccine, ”said Scott Lear, senior researcher in British Columbia and professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University.

“It is essential that we increase immunization for all Canadians, but we know that the South Asian community will need special attention and targeted awareness, especially given the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on this ethnocultural community, ”said Lawrence Loh, Co-Investigator and Medical Officer of Health, Peel Region, Ontario. “This study will allow us to understand where there is hesitation, to use science to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines approved by Health Canada, and to bring more people into the southern community. Asian to make the choice to accept this rescue. vaccine.”

“It is imperative that we study the immune response to vaccines not only in the general population, but also in priority populations, such as the South Asian community,” says Scott Halperin, co-chair of the Vaccine Surveillance Reference Group and principal investigator of the Network. Canadian Immunization Research Center. “We need to make sure that the level of antibodies achieved is comparable between different populations.”

The COVIDCommUNITY-South Asian study involves an interdisciplinary team of experts and strong collaborations with community-based public health and South Asian organizations. With Sonia Anand and Scott Lear, co-researchers include Dawn Bowdish from McMaster University (immunology), Russell de Souza (epidemiology), Mark Loeb (infectious diseases), Sujane Kandasamy (qualitative research), Gita Wahi (pediatrics), Rahul Chanchlani (health services research) and Zubin Punthakee (epidemiology). The team also includes Shrikant Bangdiwala, Principal Scientist and Director, Statistics, PHRI, and Shelly Bolotin (Seroepidemiology) from Public Health Ontario and the University of Toronto.

About McMaster University

McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities among the top 100 universities in the world, is renowned for its innovation in learning and discovery. It has a student population of 34,000 and over 195,000 alumni in 162 countries. The Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine has a worldwide reputation for the advancement of education and is internationally known for its research intensity and the development of evidence-based medicine.

About the Population Health Research Institute (IRSP)

PHRI, a joint research institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, is a world leader in clinical trials, large population health studies and epidemiological expertise. PHRI has the capacity to conduct multiple international studies simultaneously, with up to 10,000 study participants. More than 80 studies are currently underway nationally and globally. Overall, PHRI research encompasses 1.5 million participants in 102 countries on six continents. Founded in 1999 by Dr Salim Yusuf, who remains the Executive Director of PHRI, the institute’s success is a story of global collaboration and innovation through transdisciplinary research, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, surgery Perioperative, Stroke and Brain Health, Infectious Diseases and Continued. For more information, visit and on Twitter @PHRIresearch.

About Hamilton Health Sciences

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) is a hospital system of 15,000 employees, physicians, researchers and volunteers that proudly serves the residents of south central Ontario. We also provide specialized and advanced care to people across the province. The HHS is the only hospital in Ontario that cares for all ages, from pre-birth to the end of life. We offer world-class expertise in many areas including heart and stroke care, cancer care, palliative care and pediatrics. We are a world renowned hospital for health research. We focus daily on improving the quality of care for our patients through innovation and evidence-based practices. As the largest employer in the Greater Hamilton area, HHS plays a critical role in training the next generation of healthcare professionals in collaboration with our university partners, including McMaster University and Mohawk College.

About the Vaccine Surveillance Reference Group

The Vaccine Surveillance Reference Group (VSRG) supports the surveillance of the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in Canada. It is a consortium of Canadian organizations – the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the Canadian Immunization Research Network (CNIR), the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and the COVID-19 Immunity Working Group (CITF) – working collaboratively to pool expertise on vaccine surveillance. The VSRG reports to PHAC and is supported by the CITF Secretariat. It is co-chaired by the leaders of NACI and CIRN. Among its responsibilities, the VSRG, through the CITF Executive Committee, makes recommendations to the PHAC on funding research teams that can address important aspects of immune response, safety and control. effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines with relevance to public health and paying attention to all priorities. groups. For more information, visit:

About the COVID-19 Immunity Working Group

The Government of Canada established the COVID-19 Immunity Working Group at the end of April 2020. The Working Group is overseen by a volunteer steering group that includes leading Canadian scientists and experts. plan of universities and healthcare institutions across Canada focusing on understanding the nature of immunity resulting from the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. To this end, CITF supports numerous studies to determine the extent of SARS-CoV-2 infection in Canada (in the general population as well as in specific communities and priority populations), understand the nature of the immunity after infection, develop improved antibody testing methods, and help monitor the efficacy and safety of vaccines as they are deployed across Canada. The working group and its secretariat work closely with a range of partners, including governments, public health agencies, institutions, health organizations, research teams and other working groups, and mobilize communities and stakeholders. More recently, the Working Group has been asked to support vaccine surveillance, efficacy and safety as part of its overall goal of generating data and insights that inform interventions to slow – and ultimately stop – the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Canada. For more information visit:

A photo taken at the Brampton Vaccination Clinic and photos of Sonia Anand, Scott Lear and Lawrence Loh can be found at

For information, please contact:
Veronica mcguire
Media relations
Faculty of Health Sciences
McMaster University
[email protected]

COVID-19 Immunity Working Group
[email protected]
Rebecca Burns
Cell: +1.438.871.8763
Caroline Phaneuf
Cell: +1.514.444.4532

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