COVID-19 Response

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact across the globe. Beyond the physical illness, the pandemic has contributed to social, economic, political and mental health challenges. 

In 2020, faculty and researchers within the School of Public Health responded to this public health crisis. Quickly pivoting their existing research, the School’s faculty members are undertaking collaborative research to support the health of our communities, including our most vulnerable populations now, and into the future. 

The School of Public Health drives interdisciplinary, community-engaged research at the intersections of the environment, society, health and sustainability. Rooted in upstream prevention, public health touches every aspect of our life. 

Learn more about how our expertise is continuing to promote, protect, maintain and improve the health of populations globally. 


 

Nicholas Ashbolt is one of 12 leading Canadian researchers who make up the COVID-19 Wastewater Coalition’s National Research Advisory Group, providing technical and scientific guidance on the surveillance of SARS-CoV2 in wastewater.

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Epidemiologist and chronic disease management expert, Dean Eurich, is helping marginalized communities manage the impact of the global pandemic. With inequities linked to food security, housing, chronic diseases, mental health and social isolation, the virus and its consequences pose a greater risk to these communities than others.

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Expert commentary from Stephen Hodgins suggests pandemic strategies used in high- and upper middle-income countries may be unrealistic for low- and lower middle-income countries. He is also providing strategic technical advice on COVID-19 control and mitigation in Nigeria and Nepal.

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Elaine Hyshka led the development of a national guidance document to support shelters in providing evidence-based care for people who use substances during the COVID-19 pandemic. She participated in the development of a complementary document to address the needs of people who use substances in acute care settings during the pandemic. 

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A cross-faculty panel of UAlberta experts, including Shanthi Johnson discussed evidence-based ways for seniors to protect health and learn about medication decisions, exercise, resilience strategies and more for long-term thrivability in a COVID-19 landscape.

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Dev Menon is an expert in health technology assessment and an advisor to governments on how to best invest limited resources to maximize health benefits for populations. As Alberta begins to rollout its COVID-19 vaccination program, he explains the factors that go into deciding who should be at the front of the line. 

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Stephanie Montesanti led new research into the benefits and potential barriers of virtual care interventions for people experiencing or at-risk of domestic and sexual violence during COVID-19, and is working with primary care and community partners to develop practice-based guidelines and training manuals to support virtual delivery. Through a project called Data2Action, she and her partners aim to use open-source data and artificial intelligence to encourage help-seeking behaviour.

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Zubia Mumtaz is a representative and signatory on a Canadian Coalition of Global Health Research- Canadian Society of International Health joint statement, a call for action to support a global initiative to provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, The Canadian government answered the call by setting aside $220 million for vaccines in poor countries, the same amount it has budgeted for Canada.

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 The COVID-19 pandemic and related public health measures have drawn  attention to how critically important homes, neighbourhoods and communities are to health. Candace Nykiforuk and the Centre for Healthy Communities will develop a toolkit for diverse stakeholders to better understand the health of communities and inform decision-making in recovery, economic uncertainty, and environmental stewardship.

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Simon Otto led a team of trainees from his research group, HEAT-AMR, to complete a rapid review for the Alberta Health Services COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Group to assess the occupational risk of transmission of COVID-19 to frontline healthcare workers.

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Roman Pabayo and a team of students, along with Public Health Ontario and the Ontario Public Health Association will specifically focus on the impact of changes to public health funding on COVID-19 pandemic preparedness and response.

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Kim Raine, co-author of Alberta's 2020 Nutrition Report Card on Food Environments for Children and Youth, found that COVID-19 has made gaps in food environments and nutrition vulnerabilities amongst children more evident.

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Denise Spitzer is investigating women’s role as leaders in the context of COVID-19 across both the Global North and Global South. By exploring the role of women in capacity building efforts, she and her colleagues will generate greater understanding of the potential for women’s roles in leading a post-COVID recovery.

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 Paul Veugelers and his team will collect and assess information on children's mental health, sleep, diet and other lifestyle factors to determine how they may have changed after COVID-19 school closures, with a goal to understand how to improve in-school student supports.

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At the request of the Government of Canada, Cam Wild, Nominated Principal Investigator of CRISM | Prairies, worked with colleagues from across Canada to oversee the development of evidence-based guidance documents and related products (plain-language summaries, webinars) that address urgent needs of people who use substances, service providers, and decision makers in relation to the COVID‑19 pandemic.

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Shelby Yamamoto is investigating how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the well-being of new mothers, newborns and health-care professionals in China. Her research will help inform public health responses in Canada and around the world. 

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Kue Young and Faith Davis,  former dean and vice-dean respectively, call on the Government of Alberta to value and fund public health education so the School of Public Health can continue to offer high-quality training to serve the province, when it is needed the most.

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Yutaka Yasui and his team evaluated the magnitude of COVID-19 mortality burden borne by 3,140 United States counties nationwide. They compared the COVID-19 mortality rate in counties with higher and lower proportions of non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic residents.They found counties' COVID-19 mortality rates (accounting for the effects of age, rurality and poverty levels) increased with increasing non-Hispanic Black/Hispanic diversity, up to 5.4-fold increase with a higher percentage of non-Hispanic Black residents and 11.6-fold increase with a higher percentage of Hispanic residents. Had this disparity not existed, the US would have experienced 92.1% fewer deaths, making its COVID-19 mortality rate comparable to countries with strong pandemic public health responses.

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This page represents only some of the work currently underway in the School of Public Health and will be updated periodically to reflect news, research, projects and results related to COVID-19.