Master HealthLabs (MHL), Air Canada, and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) announced that they will partner on a voluntary COVID-19 study of international travelers arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The study’s core purpose is to gather information to explore the effectiveness of various quarantine periods for travelers. MHL is a non-profit organization that develops COVID-19 research initiatives and testing solutions to accelerate business recovery during the pandemic.
At the Forefront
Air Canada has been at the forefront of the airline industry in responding to COVID-19, including being among the first carriers globally to require customer face coverings onboard and the first airline in the Americas to take customers’ temperatures prior to boarding. In May, it introduced a comprehensive program, Air Canada CleanCare+, to apply industry leading bio-safety measures at each stage of the journey.
The month-long research project has been designed and will be conducted by MHL in accordance with research ethics board-approved scientific protocols. The study will be the largest of its kind and will seek to examine the number and percentage of arriving international travelers who test positive for COVID-19 during the federal government’s quarantine period. The findings of the study may be useful to the Government of Canada in its decision-making to control the spread of COVID-19 and in exploring policy options. Air Canada, as the largest Canadian airline operating out of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, is providing resources and support for the study.
Some key study points:
- Starting Sept 3, international travelers arriving at Toronto-Pearson Terminal 1 will be invited to take part in the study on a strictly voluntary basis after providing informed consent.
- Consenting participants will provide a sample to MHL researchers before leaving the airport and supply two additional samples that will be self-collected seven and fourteen days after arrival, coinciding with the federal government’s quarantine period.
- MHL will then have the samples analyzed for COVID-19 at the Research Institute of St. Joe’s Hamilton using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.
- Participants are then notified of the first results within 48 hours. All data collected remains confidential and, in order to remain that way, all data will be anonymously aggregated for the study.
- An independent data analysis will be conducted at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto under the supervision of the Principal Investigators who will have the responsibility for publishing the results in peer reviewed journals and for supporting MHL in broadly sharing the study’s findings.
Who is McMaster HealthLabs?
McMaster HealthLabs (MHL) is a non-profit organization that develops COVID-19 research initiatives and testing solutions to keep Canadians safe and to get them back to work. MHL works with a team of scientists and doctors from McMaster University, the Research Institute of St. Joe’s Hamilton in Ontario, and other Canadian universities and research organizations. MHL partners with Verto Health, leveraging its innovative digital twin technology solutions in MHL research initiatives. MHL is collaborating with Deloitte Canada for strategic and operational advisory support on this study. MHL is focused on curbing the human, economic and social costs of COVID-19 by creating scientific research initiatives that help Canadian leaders make evidence-based decisions.
Dr. Marek Smieja, Scientific Director, McMaster HealthLabs, Professor, McMaster University, co-principal investigator
Dr. Vivek Goel, Professor University of Toronto, co-principal investigator
Dr. Jim Chung, Chief Medical Officer, Air Canada
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