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Toronto researchers to study COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness

Researchers are hoping to recruit participants starting next week for a study that will look at how big a problem COVID-19 is among people experiencing homelessness in Toronto.

Dr. Stephen Hwang, director of MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael’s Hospital, will lead a research team on what is being called the COVENANT Study.

The year-long project has received $1.9 million in federal funding through the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, a organization formed by the federal government in late April to track virus spread in Canada.

“People experiencing homelessness are at greatly increased risk of getting COVID-19. However, we don’t know what proportion of the homeless population has been exposed to COVID over the last year,” Hwang said on Wednesday.

The specialist in general internal medicine said the study aims to gather evidence that will guide public health measures across the country to curb spread of COVID-19 among unhoused people. The research team will include university and hospital experts in epidemiology and lab testing.

“It’s really important that we obtain this information so that we can intervene to control the infection and also understand the importance of potentially prioritizing this population for the vaccine when it’s available,” Hwang said.

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