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.
What is CITF?
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 Honorable 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.
Call to Action: To connect with CITF, contact Caroline Phaneuf/Rebecca Burns st [email protected] or at Caroline’s cell: +1-514-778-5092, and for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research: Media Relations Canadian Institutes of Health Research +1-613-941-4563 [email protected]