Characteristics of the COVID-19 pandemic and risk factors for severe infection: a population based study within the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health

Principal Investigator: Dr. Victoria Kirsh

Affiliation: Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

Start Year: 2020

In Canada, as of 23 October 2020, there have been at least 210,879 confirmed deaths and more than 210,879 confirmed cases in the COVID-19 pandemic. Our understanding of who is most vulnerable to severe COVID-19disease is evolving, but data suggests that increasing age, obesity, and having underlying health conditions, including heart conditions, immunocompromised state, type 2 diabetes, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease put one at increased risk. There are many other conditions, lifestyle and environmental factors that might increase the risk for severe illness but for which there are limited data and information. The regional cohorts of the CanPath collected COVID-19 related data using an online questionnaire that can be integrated with data collected at baseline to:

1) generate descriptive data on the prevalence of infection in the population by person, place and time, and the constellation of symptoms;

2) quantify associations between risk of severe infection and i) comorbidities and/or chronic conditions, ii) medication use, iii) exposures (air pollution, smoking, physical activity, body mass index), and iv) occupation (medical professional vs. other to indirectly assess the role of viral load) and;

3) evaluate the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic in terms of changes in i) employment status, ii) income, and iii) savings.

These findings will inform the public health response, including whom officials advise to be particularly stringent in observing social distancing, and the clinical triage protocol for surges in COVID-19 cases. This research will directly benefit individual Canadians, and enable an informed public health response.