Publication date: Jun 15, 2020
Background: The burden of COVID-19 in Canada is unequally distributed geographically, with the largest number of cases and fatalities recorded in Quebec and Ontario while other provinces experienced limited outbreaks. To date, however, no study has assessed how provincial epidemics have unfolded in a comparative perspective. This is essential to calibrate projections of the future course of the epidemic and plan health care resources for the second wave of infections. Methods: Using newly released individual-level data collected by the Public Health Agency of Canada, we assess COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality across age and gender groups at the provincial level through a combination of demographic and survival analyses. Results: Quebec has the highest absolute and per capita number of COVID-19 confirmed positive cases, hospitalizations and fatalities in all age groups. In each province, a higher number of women than men test positive for the disease, especially above age 80. Yet consistently across age groups, infected men are more likely to be hospitalized and enter intensive care than women do. These gender differences in hospitalisation rates account for the higher case fatality risk due to COVID-19 among men compared to women. Interpretation: Although health care capacity across provinces has been sufficient to treat severe cases, we find that the main factor accounting for gender differences in COVID-19-related mortality is the need for hospitalization and intensive care, especially above age 80. This suggests a selection effect of severe cases requiring to be treated in a hospital setting that needs to be further investigated.
|disease||MESH||Emerging Infectious Disease|