At the height of the pandemic, the northern Montreal sector was one of the sectors hardest hit by COVID. The researchers now want to shed light on the reasons that might explain this situation.
The research will also provide an update on the situation in the neighborhood, as vaccination efforts continue.
“On the research side, this will allow us to understand why certain neighborhoods and population segments are affected more than others,” summarized Simona Bignami, the study’s principal investigator and associate professor in the Department of Demography at the University of Montreal.
She adds that the findings should help elected officials better support neighborhood residents. The research team approach is carried out in collaboration with several organizations in the town.
“We know that in Canada and the United States, populations experiencing racism are affected more, but we don’t understand the mechanisms very well,” she admitted.
The most common assumptions are that northern Montreal was more vulnerable because of the large population of immigrant backgrounds, as well as because many of them worked in essential sectors.
“There are no studies, at the micro level, that have looked at the individual behaviors, protective or at-risk, of different subgroups of the population,” explained M.I Benami.
His team wants to recruit 8,000 participants, half of them in North Montreal, who will be sent to an online survey. Those who accept this will also be required to participate in an antigen test to detect the presence of antibodies against COVID.
“We will have an objective measure of the immunity level of the population, compared to a control group selected in other neighborhoods,” the UdeM researcher revealed.
As of Wednesday, the process of recruiting volunteers should begin. Preliminary results of the study should be ready in early fall. A second research phase should then take place, within six months.
“This will allow us to do a follow-up to see how the situation has evolved in the meantime, as the vaccination has progressed,” predicted MI Benami.