SPPH Faculty Members to Help Lead CanPath’s National COVID-19 Seroprevalence Study

Two faculty members at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health (SPPH), Drs. Trevor Dummer and Parveen Bhatti, are helping to lead a national COVID-19 seroprevalence study with the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health (CanPath). The study is receiving an investment of $1.9 million through Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF).

Dr. Trevor Dummer, an Associate Professor at SPPH and National Scientific Co-Director of CanPath, serves as Co-Scientific Director of the BC Generations Project (BCGP). BCGP, hosted by BC Cancer, is the province’s largest-ever health study and is one of the seven regional cohorts that contribute to CanPath’s national research. Dr. Parveen Bhatti, is the Scientific Director of the BCGP, an Adjunct Professor at SPPH, and Senior Scientist at BC Cancer.

“While cancer research will remain a focus of BCGP and CanPath, our ability to quickly pivot with these cohorts to address timely public health issues such as COVID-19 is a testament to the importance of investing in long-term cohort studies as research resources,” notes Dr. Bhatti. “We are confident that the data we generate through these efforts will play a critical role in better understanding COVID-19 acquisition and health risks which will help inform both patient care and the design of more effective and targeted public health strategies.”

The targeting of health resources is especially important in the context of COVID-19’s unequal distribution, and the pandemic’s exacerbation of existing social and economic inequities. Importantly, this study will focus on priority populations with a higher chance of contracting SARS-CoV-2, including residents of long-term care homes and people living in under-served urban and rural communities with higher numbers of COVID-19 cases.

“The participant data from BC Generations will help us understand better how geography, socio-demographic factors, genetics and health history impact the varying immune responses to COVID-19 across Canada, providing evidence to develop interventions to support those communities most impacted by the virus,” explains Dr. Dummer.

CanPath was previously awarded an investment of $2.6 million by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the CITF in order to rapidly survey its cohorts and conduct testing of biological samples through their project “Surveying Prospective Population cohorts for COVID-19 prevalence and outcomes in Canada (SUPPORT-Canada)”. This new funding will build on the work of SUPPORT-Canada and allow for national and regional insight into who has been affected by the pandemic by testing 20,000 participants for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, an indication of past infection with the novel coronavirus.

Read CanPath’s Press Release here.

Read more about COVID-19’s unequal distribution in our series Social Determinants of Health: Part 1 and Part 2