South Asians may have suffered more than general public in Covid-19: Canadian study

Updated on Jul 07, 2022 11:10 AM IST

Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, ‘found the Regional Municipality of Peel, home to a large South Asian Canadian community, emerged as a Covid-19 hotspot before the local rollout of vaccines starting in April 2021’

Sonia Anand, professor at McMaster University and principal investigator for the study. (McMaster University)
Sonia Anand, professor at McMaster University and principal investigator for the study. (McMaster University)

TORONTO: South Asian communities may have suffered more during the Covid-19 pandemic than the general population, according to an indicative study published in Canada.

The study, COVID CommUNITY – South Asian, was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal Open found that people from the community living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) “suffered disproportionately from Covid-19 in the first year of the pandemic,” according to a release from the Covid-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF), which was established by the Canadian Government in April 2020.

Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, “found the Regional Municipality of Peel, home to a large South Asian Canadian community, emerged as a Covid-19 hotspot before the local rollout of vaccines starting in April 2021”.

While the Peel region accounts for approximately 10% of the population of Ontario, it made up 23.6% of the province’s Covid-19 cases during the second wave of the pandemic in late 2020. The city of Brampton was the “epicentre”.

Peel region and Brampton have the largest concentration of Indo-Canadians in the country. A quarter of the population of about 1.5 million is from South Asia with India contributing the biggest component.

“One third of participants in this study were essential workers through the pandemic, and 20% lived in multi-generational households. These factors, along with lower socioeconomic status, are the primary determinants of the higher seropositivity rates in Peel’s South Asian community, instead of any innately biological cause,” said Sonia Anand, professor of medicine and epidemiology at McMaster’s Department of Medicine, and the principal investigator for the study.

Dr Catherine Hankins, Co-Chair of the CITF said, “Understanding the factors that rendered any community or region a hotspot for Covid-19 will not only help us manage future pandemics. The insights can also inform Canada’s ongoing efforts to achieve more equitable health outcomes on a population-wide basis.”

“Covid-19 exposed the inequities in terms of healthcare access. What we found in this study has really driven that point home,” Anand said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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