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McMaster-led study aims to protect older Canadians from severe outcomes of COVID-19

Dr. Parminder Raina, a McMaster University researcher and professor, is leading a national study that will focus on COVID-19 and its impact on older Canadians.
Dr. Parminder Raina, a McMaster University researcher and professor, is leading a national study that will focus on COVID-19 and its impact on older Canadians. McMaster University

A McMaster university professor is leading a national study that will focus on COVID-19 and its impact on older Canadians, who are most at risk of serious illness and death.

Blood samples will be collected and analyzed from more than 19,000 people, in all provinces,

Participants will also complete a questionnaire that collects information on symptoms, risk factors, health-care use, and the psychosocial and economic impacts of COVID-19.

Read more: McMaster awarded another $20M for COVID-19 research

Dr. Parminder Raina, lead principal investigator of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), says the two-pronged approach “will allow us to estimate the levels of immunity among older Canadians and give us a deeper understanding of some of the factors that affect their experience of the disease.”

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In basic terms, Dr. Raina says the blood sample analysis will “show how widespread infection is among men and women over age 50,” and the questionnaire “will tell us about the lives of those individuals since the onset of the pandemic.”

Taken together, he adds that information “will give us a more complete understanding of the transmission dynamics and the risk factors that are associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection in aging adults.”

Read more: Coronavirus: 2nd wave likely to extend delays for surgeries at McMaster Children’s hospital

The study will launch this fall and will involve a national team of researchers.

It is being funded through a $4-million investment by Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF).

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has said that protecting aging Canadians who are at high risk of severe outcomes is a “top priority.”