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Researchers to conduct $4M national study on COVID-19 in older adults

October 13, 2020
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new study on COVID-19’s impact on our aging population by the Canadian Task Force on Longitudinal Aging (CLSA) has garnered $4 million in funding from Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force.

The study will investigate the burden of SARS-CoV-2 infection among aging Canadians, a population that has been known to be at greatest risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19. Researchers will collect and analyze blood samples from more than 19,000 CLSA participants and survey their symptoms, risks 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 from the blood sample analyses, along with questionnaire findings, will paint a more comprehensive picture of the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 and the impact of COVID-19 on older adults in Canada, the researchers say.

Andrew Wister, gerontology professor and CLSA lead for SFU.

"The COVID-19 global crisis has spread rapidly, with multiple waves of infection, and has resulted in unprecedented social change and challenges in terms of public health, health and continuing care systems, economies, communities, and families,” says Andrew Wister, gerontology professor and the CLSA lead at SFU, which has hosted a number of data collection sites since the initiative began in 2010. 

“The CLSA COVID-19 longitudinal survey currently in the field, and the announced sero-prevalence study, will provide important new information and fill knowledge gaps needed to successfully mitigate, adapt and respond to what I call a 'gero-pandemic,’ given its heightened risk and deleterious outcomes for older people in Canadian society.”

The CLSA is being led by McMaster University and involves more than 10 academic and hospital research sites, including SFU. The 20-year research initiative is collecting data from 50,000 older individuals from across Canada.