MONTREAL, Sept. 10, 2020 – Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF), in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), is supporting 22 studies that focus on improving our understanding of COVID-19 immunity in Canada. An investment of $12.4 million in these studies supports both translational research into SARS CoV-2 immunity and studies to determine the number of people infected with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in various populations.
The CITF was established by the Government of Canada in late April 2020 to mobilize studies to understand SARS-CoV-2 infection and immunity in Canada. “When CIHR issued a COVID-19 Rapid Research Competition in May 2020, it made perfect sense for us to collaborate,” states CITF Co-Chair Professor David Naylor. “CIHR received an impressive number of applications and CITF was pleased to be able to step in to ensure that even more high-quality proposals were funded. The CITF review identified 22 of these strong studies as particularly in line with the Task Force’s key priorities,” Naylor continues. “Nine were co funded with CIHR and thirteen will be launched primarily with CITF funding.”
“The studies being supported will shed light on the levels of infection and immunity amongst groups such as health care workers, children, the homeless, and the LGBTQ community, among others,” says Professor Catherine Hankins, CITF Co Chair. “Projects are also focused on innovative ways of advancing immune testing, including the establishment of more rapid and accurate home blood collection kits,” she continues.
“One of the goals for CITF-CIHR collaboration is to inform national outcomes and move beyond individual research efforts,” explains Dr. Charu Kaushic, Scientific Director for the CIHR Institute of Immunity and Infection and member of the CITF Leadership Group. “For this reason, seven of the research teams, focusing on people affected by COVID-19, have been invited to collaborate and form a network in order to provide more integrated insights into the duration and degree of immune protection arising from COVID-19.”
“As we continue to respond to the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, it is clear why investments in research are important,” says the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “The funding being allocated through the CITF CIHR collaboration is a prime example of the research efforts we can achieve through strong partnerships. Canadians are benefiting from the impressive and innovative power of Canadian researchers in our coordinated, national approach to fight this pandemic.”
“Acquiring immunity at the individual and community level is key to ending this pandemic. While we await a vaccine, improving our understanding of immunity among different populations in Canada who have acquired COVID-19 will help us limit the spread of the virus,” says Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada.
“CIHR is pleased to have been able to collaborate with CITF to ensure that we continue to provide the best evidence possible to manage the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr. Michael Strong, President of CIHR. “By providing a more precise picture of immunity in the country and by collaborating within networks, Canadian researchers will contribute to make important contributions to understanding and responding to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
Thanks to this investment from CITF, CIHR and partners are now supporting 153 applications submitted to the May 2020 COVID-19 Rapid Research Funding Opportunity for a total of $123.5M. CITF is supporting 22 projects that align with the Task Force’s key priorities. Those projects are led by researchers from many different academic and health institutions spanning from Eastern to Western Canada, including Memorial University of Newfoundland, University of Manitoba, University of Victoria, as well as the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) and the Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine (CHUSJ).
ABOUT THE COVID-19 IMMUNITY TASK FORCE
The Government of Canada launched the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) in late April 2020 to track the spread of the virus in both the general population and priority populations in Canada. The Task Force also aims to shed light on immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 in a diversity of communities, age brackets, populations, and occupational groups across the nation. To generate this information, the Task Force is drawing on experts from universities and hospitals across Canada and working closely with provincial and territorial public health officials. For more information visit: www.covid19immunitytaskforce.ca
ABOUT CANADIAN INSTITUTES OF HEALTH RESEARCH
At the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), we know that research has the power to change lives. As Canada’s health research investment agency, we collaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.
|Last name||First name||Institution||Project Title||CITF funding||CITF & CIHR funding|
|Awadalla||Philip||Ontario Institute for Cancer Research||SUrveilling Prospective Population cOhorts for COVID19 pRevalence and ouTcomes in Canada (SUPPORT-Canada)||$510,799||$2,616,285|
|Azad||Meghan||University of Manitoba||Rapid research in the CHILD Cohort to inform Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic: investigating the prevalence and predictors of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and the health and psychosocial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadian families||$409,950||$2,099,745|
|Cherry||Nicola||University of Alberta||The impact of COVID-19 on the health of physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers: an interprovincial cohort study||$1,023,330||$1,023,330|
|Cheung||Angela||University Health Network (Toronto)||Canadian COVID-19 Prospective Cohort Study (CanCOV)||$574,975||$2,687,475|
|Drabovich||Andrei||University of Alberta||Rational design and standardization of serology diagnostics using immunoaffinity-targeted proteomics assays||$215,500||$215,500|
|Grace||Daniel||University of Toronto||Engage-COVID-19: A mixed methods study of biomedical, behavioural, and psychosocial aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men in Canada||$106,625||$687,901|
|Grant||Michael||Memorial Universty of Newfoundland||Characterization of Cellular and Humoral Immunity Against SARS-CoV-2||$497,175||$497,175|
|Hwang||Stephen||Unity Health Toronto||The COVENANT Study: COVID-19 Cohort Study of People Experiencing Homelessness in Toronto||$1,901,698||$1,901,698|
|Jarvi||Keith||Sinai Health System (Toronto)||Development of high throughput, inexpensive and scalable testing to detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies using home blood collection kits and a fully automated ELISA antibody assay||$484,965||$484,965|
|Kaufmann||Daniel||Centre hospitalier de l’Universite de Montreal (CHUM)||Early immune predictors of sustained SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses after COVID-19 disease||$1,047,965||$1,047,965|
|Lachowsky||Nathan||University of Victoria||The COVID-19 Pandemic Among Sexual and Gender Marginalized Populations in Canada: Physical Distancing Impacts, SARS-CoV-2 Seroprevalence, and Health and Wellness Needs||$661,542||$661,542|
|Langlois||Marc-André||University of Ottawa||Analysis of Antibody Neutralization Efficiency and Cellular Immunity in SARS-CoV-2-Positive Individuals Identified in At-Risk Individuals||$512,500||$2,625,000|
|Little||Dustin||Ryerson University||A low-cost, portable, and decentralized microfluidic device for detecting SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies||$235,800||$235,800|
|Madathil||Sreenath Arekunnath||McGill University||COVID-19 incidence rates among Canadian dentists as they return to work: a cohort study||$54,285||$350,226|
|Maguire||Jonathon||Unity Health Toronto||TARGet Kids! COVID-19 Study of Children and Families: Safe Return to School, Work, and Play||$974,826||$974,826|
|McGeer||Alison||Sinai Health System (Toronto)||Are healthcare workers at higher risk of COVID-19 than other working adults?||$1,649,000||$1,649,000|
|Nazy||Ishac||McMaster University||Long-term protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 virus in COVID-19 patients||$350,000||$350,000|
|O’Connor||Deborah||Sinai Health System (Toronto) / University of Toronto||Can COVID-19 and maternal antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 be transmitted through human milk? Implications for breastfeeding and human milk banking||$28,293||$182,538|
|Quach-Thanh||Caroline||Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine||REinfection in COVid-19 Estimation of Risk (RECOVER)||$512,493||$2,624,964|
|Troyer||Ryan||University of Western Ontario||Simple assay to assess antibody-dependent enhancement of SARS-CoV-2||$151,050||$151,050|
|Watts||Tania||University of Toronto||Towards a comprehensive understanding of adaptive immunity to SARS-CoV-2||$259,520||$1,329,250|
|Wilson||Kumanan||Bruyère Research Institute||Immunity Passports for COVID-19: Scientific, Ethical, Policy and Design Implications||$236,858||$236,858|