McMaster University helps lead $4M study on COVID-19 impact on older adults

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Published October 7, 2020 at 1:21 pm

McMaster University will help lead a national study to investigate the spread and impact of COVID-19 among ageing Canadians.

McMaster University will help lead a national study to investigate the spread and impact of COVID-19 among ageing Canadians.

“In basic terms, the blood sample analysis will show how widespread SARS-CoV-2 infection is among men and women over age 50, while the questionnaire will tell us about the lives of those individuals since the onset of the pandemic,” said Parminder Raina, a professor in the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact at McMaster and the scientific director of the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging.

The study is backed by a $4-million investment from the federal government’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force. It will be carried out by the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), a national platform for research on ageing led by McMaster University and involving more than 10 academic and hospital research sites across the country.

“By building on the CLSA’s extensive data collection and infrastructure, the study’s 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,” added Parminder Raina.

The CLSA’s COVID-19 Seroprevalence Study will collect and analyze blood samples from more than 19,000 CLSA participants in 10 provinces. In addition to providing blood samples, the CLSA’s study participants will complete a questionnaire that collects information on symptoms, risk factors, health-care use, and the psychosocial and economic impacts of COVID-19.

Linking the results about the presence of antibodies and other immune markers obtained from the blood sample analyses to the CLSA’s questionnaire findings will paint a more comprehensive picture of the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 and the impact of COVID-19 among older adults in Canada.

“As we begin a second wave of the pandemic, finding novel ways to further understand immunity in ageing Canadians is increasingly important,” said David Naylor, co-chair of the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force.

“The CLSA project will illuminate the many interrelated factors that influence the spread and impact of COVID-19 among older adults, be it their living conditions, access to health care, or underlying conditions, to name just a few.”

The study will launch this fall, led by Raina, the CLSA’s lead principal investigator, co-principal investigators Susan Kirkland (Dalhousie University, Halifax) and Christina Wolfson (McGill University, Montreal), as well as a national team of researchers.

with files and photo from McMaster University

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