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U of A researcher receives federal funding to study the impact of COVID-19 on health care workers across Canada

One of 22 recently announced projects to receive funding from the Immunity Task Force, Dr. Nicola Cherry has received just over $1 million to study which areas of health care work are at higher risk for contracting or transmitting COVID-19.
By: Heather Marie Connors
September 16, 2020
Photo by Ed Kaiser / Postmedia

University of Alberta professor Dr. Nicola Cherry began her research by surveying physicians in April, a month after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Alberta. At that time, the rate of infection among health care workers was about 1.3%. Her research has since extended to thousands of health care workers from Alberta, Ontario, B.C. and Quebec, and includes nurses, doctors, personal support workers and others.

“It’s not simply those in the ICU dealing with really sick COVID patients who are going to get exposed. Every family doctor has a real risk of getting exposed if there is a high level of infection in the community,” Cherry told the Edmonton Journal.

Dr. Cherry is one of 22 recipients of recently-awarded project funding from the federal government's Immunity Task Force, in collaboration with the Canadian Institute of Health Research. With just over $1 million in funding, Dr. Cherry is researching the impact of COVID-19 on those who work in healthcare. The majority of the funding will go towards antibody testing, to be conducted this fall and then again next spring.

“That’s really the only way we’re going to get a true picture of who has been exposed and who hasn’t,” said Cherry.

In addition to studying which areas of healthcare are statistically less safe, Dr. Cherry is also assessing anxiety levels among workers. One of the desired outcomes of the research is to improve working conditions, while minimizing risk.

The results of the study are expected by the end of September 2021.

Source: Edmonton Journal

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