Next webinar 29 September (1600 CET)

Sushma Dahal, from Georgia State University, will present: “Investigating COVID-19 transmission and mortality differences between indigenous and non-indigenous populations in Mexico.” (Contact for a link.)

Globally, indigenous populations have suffered worse health consequences during the past pandemic, such as the 1918 influenza pandemic and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Not many studies have assessed the impact of COVID-19 among indigenous groups. Our team studied the mortality impact of COVID-19 among indigenous and non-indigenous populations in Mexico, the country with the highest indigenous populations in the Americas. The webinar presentation will focus on this study’s methods, results, and public health implications.

Study team: Sushma Dahal, Svenn-Erik Mamelund, Ruiyan Luo, Lisa Sattenspiel, Shannon Self-Brown, and Gerardo Chowell.

Bio: Sushma Dahal, MPH is a Second Century Initiative (2CI) Doctoral Fellow in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University (GSU), USA. She was a Fulbright scholar during her MPH studies at GSU. She has previously worked as an epidemiologist at Nepal Health Research Council. Her research interest focus on estimating excess mortality during pandemics, assessing the impact of health emergencies on vulnerable populations, and mathematical modeling of infectious diseases.

Next PANSOC Webinar on 22 September (1600 CET)

Nele Brusselaers, Antwerp University & Karolinska Institutet & Ghent University, will present “How science affected Covid-19 policy in Sweden.” (Contact for a link.)

The Swedish response to the Covid-19 pandemic has stood out from the start. Together with a group of scientists, medical doctors and a human rights journalist, we evaluated how science affected the Swedish Covid-19 policy during 2020. We tried to disentangle who was involved in the decision making and why certain decisions were made, putting everything in a socio-cultural and historical perspective. Our paper published in Humanities and Social Sciences Communications in March 2022 quickly went viral becoming one of the most-popular research outputs ever (nr 131 of 22 million articles ever on September 12, 2022, according to Altmetrics). This shows that the so-called Swedish approach is still a hot topic with very strong defenders and opponents in Sweden and abroad. In addition, I was also involved in another project comparing the health policy, epidemiology and economic consequences of the pandemic in the Nordic region (Irfan et al, Journal of Global Health 2022), the countries which are most similar to Sweden in almost all aspects… Sweden was clearly not the best of this class…

Nele Brusselaers is a Professor in Clinical Epidemiology at Antwerp University in Belgium (Global Health Institute), Associate Professor at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden (Centre for Translational Microbiome Researcher), and Guest Professor at Ghent University, Belgium. She completed her training as a medical doctor (2008), PhD (2010), master in infection control/hospital hygiene (2010) and first post-doc at Ghent University in Belgium (2012). Nele also obtained a master in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (by distance learning, 2015). Towards the end of 2020 she moved back to Belgium to combine her research in Sweden with a fulltime academic position in Belgium. Nele has extensive experience in clinical, cancer, microbiome and pharmaco-epidemiology by working with the Swedish nationwide health registries, several clinical (microbiome) cohorts and systematic reviews and meta-analyses, resulting in over 140 peer-reviewed articles. She has also been an active member of the Swedish Scientific Forum Covid-19, a group of independent researchers and medical doctors “that disseminates science-based knowledge about the major issues and challenges that the ongoing pandemic have posed to the world and our country”.

The PANSOC Webinar series returns September 15 at 1600 CET!

Kirsty Short, The University of Queensland, will present “Obesity and viral disease: lessons for pandemic preparedness.”

Obesity first emerged as a risk factor for severe viral infection in the 2009 influenza virus pandemic. This was then strongly echoed in the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Here, we discuss how obesity increases the severity of respiratory viral infections and how we can improve pandemic preparedness given the overwhelming number of people who are overweight or obese.

Bio: A/Prof Kirsty Short is head of the Respiratory Virus Pathogenesis Laboratory at the University of Queensland. She investigates the pathogenesis of human influenza virus, avian influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2. Her work covers a broad range of topics including viral evolution, the role of host comorbidities in viral disease and the effect of age on the innate immune response.

Contact for a Zoom link.

Call for Papers: Indigenous Peoples & Pandemics conference

Pandemics are a pressing global threat to human life and security, and they have especially serious impacts on Indigenous people throughout the world.

The Centre for Advanced Study (CAS) funded project Social Science Meets Biology: Indigenous People and Severe Influenza Outcomes, to be held from August 2022 to June 2023, will bring together interdisciplinary researchers from PANSOC and other international institutions to foster conversations that integrate medical, epidemiological and social perspectives in order to increase understanding of Indigenous experiences when faced with pandemic diseases and better appreciate the diversity of pandemic consequences faced by Indigenous vs. non-Indigenous peoples.

The project will also seek to identify policies to improve prevention and control of pandemics with a particular focus on lessoning their impacts of Indigenous peoples and recommending future research priorities in this area.

As part of this project, a conference will be held in Oslo 15-16 May 2023. Read the call for papers here: Indigenous Peoples & Pandemics conference – CAS

PANSOC at Centre for Advanced Study

Over the 2022-23 academic year, head of PANSOC, Svenn-Erik Mamelund, will lead a group at the Centre for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy for Science and Letters in Oslo.

Photo: On the left starting in front, Svenn-Erik Mamelund, Jessica Dimka, Heather Battles and Lisa Sattenspiel. On the right starting in front, Eleniai Damas, Gerardo Chowel and Benjamin Schneider.

In the Social Science Meets Biology: Indigenous People and Severe Influenza Outcomes – CAS project, 15 international researchers with a background in epidemiology, genetics, social sciences and history will study why Indigenous peoples are vulnerable to serious disease during pandemics. PANSOC is the first OsloMet group awarded a research stay at CAS. The selection of CAS research groups follows an extensive review process by international experts, which shows the outstanding international quality of PANSOC’s research.

New paper out: Investigating COVID-19 transmission and mortality differences between indigenous and non-indigenous populations in Mexico

We have just published our second paper which is part of our 2022-23 academic year project at the Centre for Advanced Study Social Science Meets Biology: Indigenous People and Severe Influenza Outcomes – CAS. You can read the whole paper here: Investigating COVID-19 transmission and mortality differences between indigenous and non-indigenous populations in Mexico – International Journal of Infectious Diseases (


  • Indigenous groups had a 68% higher COVID-19 mortality rate than the non-indigenous groups.
  • Of 32 federal entities, 23 had a higher mortality rate among the indigenous groups.
  • The mortality rate ratio and the reproduction number were highest during the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Indigenous populations had a higher care-seeking delay than the non-indigenous populations.
  • The hazard ratio decreased from 1.67 (unadjusted) to 1.08 in the adjusted model.



Indigenous populations have been disproportionately affected during pandemics. We investigated COVID-19 mortality estimates among indigenous and non-indigenous populations at national and sub-national levels in Mexico.


We obtained data from the Ministry of Health, Mexico, on 2,173,036 laboratory-confirmed RT-PCR positive COVID-19 cases and 238,803 deaths. We estimated mortality per 1000 person-weeks, mortality rate ratio (RR) among indigenous vs. non-indigenous groups, and hazard ratio (HR) for COVID-19 deaths across four waves of the pandemic, from February 2020 to March 2022. We also assessed differences in the reproduction number (Rt).


The mortality rate among indigenous populations of Mexico was 68% higher than that of non-indigenous groups. Out of 32 federal entities, 23 exhibited higher mortality rates among indigenous groups (P < 0.05 in 13 entities). The fourth wave showed the highest RR (2.40). The crude HR was 1.67 (95% CI: 1.62, 1.72), which decreased to 1.08 (95% CI: 1.04, 1.11) after controlling for other covariates. During the intense fourth wave, the Rt among the two groups was comparable.


Indigenous status is a significant risk factor for COVID-19 mortality in Mexico. Our findings may reflect disparities in non-pharmaceutical (e.g., handwashing and using facemasks), and COVID-19 vaccination interventions among indigenous and non-indigenous populations in Mexico.

New Post-doc at PANSOC

Alexandra (Sasha) Blinkova is a researcher at risk (due to the Russian invasion into Ukraine) in the interdisciplinary field of religious studies. She has a PhD in philosophy of religion and religious studies from St. Petersburg State University (Russia) having successfully defended the dissertation on the topic of religious education in Russian schools and comparison of Russian model with the ones represented in the European Union countries.

Her research interests stem from the desire to understand how religion is manifested in contemporary world. In particular, it includes contextualization of religious tradition; analysis of educational policies in the field of religion with a focus on ideology and values; religious attitudes towards life threatening issues like organ transplants; correlations between religiosity and wellbeing, religiosity and aggression.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, her research focus has been drawn to the rapid spread of religious information in social media showing the power of religion regarding people’s responses to the pandemic as well as reshaping of religion itself by the pandemic. As a member of the OsloMet Centre for Research on Pandemics & Society (PANSOC), she has been invited to resubmit a MSCA proposal for Postdoctoral Fellowship and carry out a pilot project on religion and pandemics in social media. 

Yo can find Sasha’s e-mail and social media profiles here: Our team – Centre for Research on Pandemics & Society (PANSOC) (

New publication: Disparities in the offer of vaccination to migrants and non-migrants in Norway

You can read the new paper here: Disparities in the offer of COVID-19 vaccination to migrants and non-migrants in Norway: a cross sectional survey study | BMC Public Health | Full Text (

Vaccination is key to reducing the spread and impacts of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Migrants, compared to majority populations, tend to have lower vaccination rates, as well as higher infection disease burdens. Previous studies have tried to understand these disparities based on factors such as misinformation, vaccine hesitancy or medical mistrust. However, the necessary precondition of receiving, or recognizing receipt, of an offer to get a vaccine must also be considered.


We conducted a web-based survey in six parishes in Oslo that have a high proportion of migrant residents and were hard-hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to investigate differences in reporting being offered the COVID-19 vaccine based on migrant status. Different models controlling for vaccination prioritization variables (age, underlying health conditions, and health-related jobs), socioeconomic and demographic variables, and variables specific to migrant status (language spoken at home and years lived in Norway) were conducted.


Responses from 5,442 participants (response rate of 9.1%) were included in analyses. The sample included 1,284 (23.6%) migrants. Fewer migrants than non-migrants reported receiving a vaccine offer (68.1% vs. 81.1%), and this difference was significant after controlling for prioritization variables (OR 0.65, 95% CI: 0.52–0.82). Subsequent models showed higher odds ratios for reporting having been offered the vaccine for females, and lower odds ratios for those with university education. There were few to no significant differences based on language spoken at home, or among birth countries compared to each other. Duration of residence emerged as an important explanatory variable, as migrants who had lived in Norway for fewer than 15 years were less likely to report offer of a vaccine.


Results were consistent with studies that show disparities between non-migrants and migrants in actual vaccine uptake. While differences in receiving an offer cannot fully explain disparities in vaccination rates, our analyses suggest that receiving, or recognizing and understanding, an offer does play a role. Issues related to duration of residence, such as inclusion in population and health registries and health and digital literacy, should be addressed by policymakers and health services organizers.