Government of Canada launches second cycle of national survey to assess the health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic
April 4, 2022 | Ottawa, Ontario | Public Health Agency of Canada
Canada's response to the COVID-19 pandemic is continually guided by the latest science, evidence and research. To that end, the Government of Canada is actively working with a community of national and international experts to gather evidence on the health impacts of the pandemic, as well as potential long-term effects of the virus.
To do this, the Government of Canada is launching a second cycle of the Canadian COVID-19 Antibody and Health Survey (CCAHS). This national survey, led by Statistics Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF), aims to better understand the impacts of the pandemic on the health and well-being of Canadians, including the prevalence of chronic symptoms and conditions and the challenges that Canadians may have faced in accessing healthcare.
The development of this survey will estimate the prevalence of post COVID-19 condition (commonly known as long COVID) in Canada, and will provide information on the risk factors, symptoms and impacts of this condition on daily functioning.
Across all ten provinces, 100,000 randomly selected Canadians aged 18 years and older will have received invitations from Statistics Canada to participate in the survey. Over the course of the first week of April, the first 33,000 selected Canadians will receive a kit in the mail. Among the items inside is a link to the online survey with questions related to their general health, any chronic symptoms and conditions, their COVID-19 history and related symptoms, vaccination status, interactions with the healthcare system and medication use.
In addition to the invitations to complete the online survey, respondents will be provided with dried blood spot (DBS) test kits, with step-by-step instructions, to test for COVID-19 antibodies. These DBS tests will be used to estimate the number of Canadian adults who have infection-acquired and/or vaccine-induced antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Respondents who choose to conduct the DBS test component will receive a personalized report of their results.
Canadians aged 18 years and over will be randomly selected from Canadian households to create a representative sample and ensure that the results are generalizable to the Canadian adult population. Individuals who do not receive an invitation to participate in the survey cannot volunteer for the study.
“We appreciate the participation of Canadians who have been invited to take part in this survey. Increasing our understanding of COVID-19, including its longer-term effects, is key to addressing and recovering from the pandemic. Your involvement is essential to better understand the extent of COVID-19 across Canada to help us support you and all affected.”
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
"The availability of high-quality information on post COVID-19 condition, also known as long COVID, is limited at this time. We are working closely with the provinces and territories as well as Statistics Canada and the CITF to advance the evidence base on post COVID-19 condition to support those Canadians who are experiencing longer term effects.”
Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada
“The Omicron variant spread quickly and Canada’s SARS-CoV-2 monitoring capacities have been undermined by the steep decline in PCR testing for active infection. With many vaccinated Canadians having light or no symptoms, hospitalization rates are not giving us the full picture of COVID-19 in Canada either. This study is therefore poised to give us a good estimate of the number of Canadians who have previously had a SARS-CoV-2 infection or who have acute infection, by vaccination status. This will provide governments with further evidence as they continue to make important and tailored decisions regarding public health strategies and measures.”
COVID-19 Immunity Task Force Co-Chair
“As COVID-19 health measures continue to ease, researchers and policy-makers still require key information to better understand the virus itself, and its social, economic and health impacts – including chronic, long-term health effects. The data collected by Statistics Canada in the Canadian COVID-19 Antibody and Health Survey will be used by our partners, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF), to protect the health and well-being of Canadians and to guide Canada’s COVID-19 recovery. Guarding Canadians privacy is at the heart of everything we do; your data will be kept private, safe and confidential. Statistics Canada employees are proud to provide world-class expertise to support Canada’s recovery efforts. I want to thank Canadians for their willingness to take part in this survey.”
Chief Statistician, Statistics Canada
The Public Health Agency of Canada, Statistics Canada and the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force are conducting a second cycle of the Canadian COVID-19 Antibody and Health Survey.
The first cycle started in 2020 and found that few Canadians had antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in early 2021.
The second cycle of the study involves sending surveys and test kits to 100,000 Canadians across the ten provinces.
Canadians aged 18 years and older will be randomly selected to create a representative sample and ensure that the results are generalizable to the Canadian adult population. Individuals who do not receive an invitation to participate in the survey cannot volunteer for the study.
DBS testing is an innovative technology commonly used by scientists at PHAC to screen for transmissible diseases in Canada. It has a variety of uses such as testing for sexually transmitted, blood-borne infections (STBBIs) and testing for antibodies from previous infections such as COVID-19. Learn more about how DBS testing is used by PHAC scientist in this blog.
The survey invitations and test kits will be administered during three waves, with wave 1 launched in early April, wave 2 in May, and wave 3 in June.
Public Health Agency of Canada
COVID-19 Immunity Task Force
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