Studying the social determinants of COVID-19 in a data vacuum


  • Kate Choi
  • Patrick Denice
  • Michael Haan
  • Anna Zajacova
Keywords: COVID-19, neighborhood contexts, health inequality, racial inequality


The Canadian government has no plans to release data on the race or socioeconomic status of COVID-19 patients. Therefore, whether COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting certain socio-demographic groups in Canada is unknown. We fill this data void by merging publicly available COVID-19 data with tabular census data to identify risk factors rendering certain geographic areas more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections and deaths. We combine insights obtained from this analysis with information on the socio-demographic profiles of smaller geographic units to predict and display the incidence of COVID-19 infections and deaths in these locales. Like in the U.S., COVID-19 has disproportionately affected black and immigrant communities in Canada. COVID-19 death tolls are also higher in Canadian communities with higher shares of older adults.


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