A Canadian research team conducts first global study of COVID-19 and Celiac disease

Canadian Celiac Association partners with McMaster University


TORONTO, Oct. 20, 2020 – At the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, a team of researchers from McMaster University—in partnership with the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA)—sought to determine if people with celiac disease were at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. This is the first large-scale global study of its kind and was led by Dr. Maria Pinto Sanchez at McMaster University.

“Early in the pandemic, every patient in our clinic was asking if their risk of contracting COVID-19 was increased due to their celiac disease. Initially, with the help of student Jamie Zhen, we developed a survey intended to be used just in our clinic, but we saw the potential to bring/take it to a wider audience when my international colleagues expressed interest. After getting the approval of the McMaster ethics board, we brough it to the CCA to help us get the word out to celiacs across Canada”, says Dr. Pinto Sanchez.

While the research started in Canada, it quickly expanded to include 18,000 self-reported celiac disease sufferers from across the globe. The survey, which was live from March to June 2020, was conducted with participation from 10 countries (Canada, Argentina, US, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Italy, Spain, New Zealand and Australia) and was also translated into Spanish and Italian.

“Despite numerous previous studies that have suggested celiac disease is associated with an increased risk of respiratory infections, the research revealed patients with celiac disease were no more at risk of contracting COVID-19 than non-celiacs,” says Dr. Pinto Sanchez.  “What this means is celiacs need only take the same precautions as the general public: wearing of masks in public, physical distancing of at least 2 metres and adopt a thorough hand-washing protocol.”

The results have been published in the journal of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

For more details or an interview with the CCA or Dr. Pinto Sanchez, please contact Melissa Secord.


About the Canadian Celiac Association

The Canadian Celiac Association / L’Association canadienne de la maladie coeliaque, a volunteer-based federally registered charitable organization, empowers people who are adversely affected by gluten. It was founded in 1972 and continues to be a source of science-based information, fostering research and encouraging mutual support among the gluten-free community. The association serves people with celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis and gluten disorders through its affiliated chapters across Canada.


Media Contact: Melissa Secord, Executive Director


M: 905-507-6208 ext. 226


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