About the seroMARK project

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been reports indicating that Black communities in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada are at an increased risk of COVID-19 infection. However, the reasons for this increased risk are unclear.

The seroMARK project is a research study that will use seroprevalence to understand the extent to which the Black community in Canada has been affected by COVID-19. Infection will be determined by measuring the antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19. The project seeks to answer the following questions:

  • How common is COVID-19 infection in the Black Canadian population in Ontario?
  • What factors are most responsible for infection in the Black Canadian community in Ontario?
  • To what extent will infection rates in Black Canadian communities change over time?

Finding answers to these questions will help us understand how vulnerable Black Canadians are to COVID-19 and future waves of infection. This will help determine how the community might be protected from the virus and how long this protection might last.

What is seroprevalence?

Seroprevalence is the level of a pathogen in a population, as measured in blood serum. This project is studying seroprevalence to assess how common an infection is by testing for antibodies in the blood. We want to determine the level of COVID-19 infection among a population of Black Canadians compared with other populations in Canada.

What are antibodies?

Antibodies are substances that the body makes in response to an infection like COVID-19. Some of these antibodies may be associated with protection against the infection. We want to test Black Canadians in Ontario to determine if they have evidence of COVID-19 infection as indicated by antibody responses. Antibody testing allows us to test how your body protects you from infections like COVID-19.

We want to find out if clinical, socioeconomic and demographic factors are related to the likelihood that someone is positive for COVID-19 antibodies.

Who can participate in this study?

African Canadians (Caribbean, African, Black North American)
Note: The first phase of the project will start in Toronto, Ontario.

You are eligible to participate if you are older than age 2 and are not sick with COVID-19 at the time of testing in the study.

Non-African Canadians

If you do not identify as African Canadian but live within one of the eligible Ontario cities or postal code zones, you can also participate in the study.

Eligible cities and postal code zones

What will happen in this study?

The seroMARK team will visit communities across Ontario starting with the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and will provide notice when we are coming. Eligible participants will be invited to come to specific sites in their community to be interviewed for the project.

This will be done with the help of social media, community leaders, churches and other means to ensure many community members have the opportunity to participate in this research.

During the first visit with eligible participants, we will take a blood sample. We will also fill out a questionnaire with you. The first visit will last approximately 45-60 minutes.

  • If your blood test result is negative for antibodies at the first visit, your participation in this study is complete but you have the option to return for future testing.
  • If your blood test is positive for the antibodies, we will invite you back in six months to check if your test remains positive.

If you choose to participate in another visit, you will have another blood test and we will complete another questionnaire. The second visit will last approximately 20-30 minutes.

Translating what we learn

The seroMARK project aims to generate data that will be directly relevant to the Black Canadian community and could inform policy changes aimed at reducing the risk of COVID-19 in this community.

We are working closely with members of the Black community to ensure that everyone is fully informed about the project and its potential benefits and to ensure that its voice is heard. We also intend to include other Canadians who reside in certain postal codes zones as we believe the information from the project may benefit them as well.

Most importantly, we will ensure that the results of the project are provided to participants and those who helped us conduct it. This project will be conducted by the community, for the community, with the community.

The seroMARK team

Membership pending
  • Dr. Pamela Appelt, African Canadian Community
  • Adaoma Patterson, Jamaican Canadian Association
  • Dr. Cheryl Prescod, Black Creek Community Health Centre
  • Nicole Welch, Toronto Public Health
  • Dr. Janet Collins, Congress of Black Women
  • Tesfai Mengesha, African Canadian Community
  • Dr. Sylvanus Thompson, Toronto Public Health
  • Liben Gebremikael, Toronto Public Health
  • Paul Bailey, Black Health Alliance
  • Imara Rolston, City of Toronto
  • Sané Dube, Alliance for Healthier Communities
  • Royson James, African Canadian Community
  • Stephen Mensah, Toronto Youth Cabinet
  • Chantal Phillips, Medical Student, University of Toronto
  • Renee Bailey, McMaster University
  • Noelle Richardson, Media and Diversity Consultant
  • Jenny Gumbs, Government Relations Specialist
  • Lanre Tunji-Ajayi, Sickle Cell Awareness Group of Ontario
  • Claire F. Wootten, York University
  • Dr. Frank Ossai, Family Physician
  • Dr. Janet Collins, Congress of Black Women
  • Dr. Carol McDaniel, Psychiatrist Sarnia
  • Dr. Nicole Kaniki, Special Advisor on Racism to the President, Western University
  • Serge Kaniki
  • Alexandra Kane, Black Lives Matter
  • Mabel Kane
  • Maya Mark, Congress of Black women
  • Scott Courtice, London Intercommunity
  • Rob Haile, South West Public health
  • Janelle Forbes, Student, Western University
  • Oluwakemi Komolafe, Middlesex Health Unit

Membership pending

Are you interested in being a participant?

Please click the button below to fill out the contact form. After you submit the form, a member of the seroMARK project team will contact you to discuss next steps.

By providing your contact information and submitting the form below, you are providing your consent to be contacted by the seroMARK project team at SickKids.

Participant contact form

Are you interested in joining the project team?

Please click the button below to fill out the contact form. After you submit the form, a member of the seroMARK project team will contact you to provide more information.

Project team contact form

For all other inquiries, please call or email us: