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 (ijidonline.com)

Highlights

  • 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.

Abstract

Objectives

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.

Methods

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).

Results

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.

Conclusion

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) (oslomet.no)

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 (biomedcentral.com)

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusion

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.

Dødens skip – Kong Sverre. Hvorfor døde så mange av rekruttene ombord av spanskesyken i 1918?

Christina Stylegar Torjussen er masterstudent i historie ved Universitetet i Sør-Øst Norge (Ole Georg Mosen som hovedveileder) og har samtidig vært assosiert med PANSOC hvor hun også har hatt Mamelund som biveileder. Hun har jobbet med å finne ut mest mulig om soldatene og hvorfor det gikk så galt med mange av dem. Skipet var stasjonert i Horten og tok imot 500 rekrutter i oktober 1918. Snart var 158 av dem smittet. Av disse fikk halvparten lungebetennelse og 27% av dem døde. Andelen som døde var mye høyere enn i resten av samfunnet (som var 2% høsten 1918). I episoden forteller Torjussen også om hvordan det er å skrive masteroppgave ved siden av full lærerjobb, og litt om hvordan det er å være en del av PANSOC, et fremragende forskningsmiljø ved OsloMet.

Du kan lytte til podkasten her: Dødens skip – Kong Sverre. Hvorfor døde så mange av rekruttene ombord av spanskesyken i 1918? – Viten og snakkis (oslomet.no)

Portrett av kvinne med sjø i bakgrunnen.

Call for applications for Visiting Researcher Program to do research on Indigenous Peoples & Pandemics

The 1918-20 influenza pandemic hit the native communities in Alaska hard. These children in an orphanage in Nushagak, Alaska, lost their parents. Summer of 1919. Source: Alaska Historical Library
The 1918-20 influenza pandemic hit the native communities in Alaska hard. These children in an orphanage in Nushagak, Alaska, lost their parents. Summer of 1919. Source: Alaska Historical Library

Pandemics are one of the most pressing global threats 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 – CAS, to be held from August 2022 to June 2023, will bring together interdisciplinary researchers to foster conversations that integrate medical, epidemiological and social perspectives. The primary aims are to increase understanding of the commonalities and varieties of Indigenous experiences when faced with pandemic diseases and better appreciate the diversity of pandemic consequences faced by Indigenous vs. non-indigenous peoples.

As part of this project, we welcome applications from advanced PhD students and post-PhD academics at all career stages for a short visit to Oslo during the 2022-2023 academic year. The venue is CAS at the The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters | Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi (dnva.no) in Oslo.

Applicants with Indigenous background are especially welcomed, but non-Indigenous researchers are also encouraged to apply. Visiting researchers will be expected to give a talk on their research and will have the opportunity to discuss potential collaborations and proposals with CAS fellows.

We encourage applications from science-oriented researchers with interests in Indigenous people’s experiences with historical, current, and future pandemics. Examples of topics of interest are:

  • Disparities in disease outcomes or impacts of public health measures based on Indigenous status, taking socioeconomic and other types of inequalities into account.
  • Syndemic interactions among multiple infectious conditions or with non-communicable diseases, chronic health conditions, intergenerational trauma and colonization.
  • Relationships between infectious disease epidemics and other crises such as financial crisis, wars, extreme climate events and climate change.

The visiting researcher program will cover transportation costs to Oslo and hotel accommodations for 1-2 weeks.

Please send a CV and cover letter with a short description (1-2 pages) of your research interests and objectives for a visit to Oslo, as well as anticipated timing or availability for travel, to Professor and group leader Svenn-Erik Mamelund (masv@oslomet.no).

APPLICATION DEADLINE: 15 August, 2022