The federal government has announced a series of measures to support health sciences, in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 15 – Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $450 million to help support Canada’s academic research community during #COVID19.

The investment will:

  • Provide wage supports to universities and health research institutes, so they can retain research staff who are funded from industry or philanthropic sources and are unable to access some of the government’s existing COVID-19 support measures. This would apply even if their work has been temporarily suspended. The government will provide up to 75 per cent per individual, with a maximum of $847 per week.
  • Support universities and health research institutes to maintain essential research-related activities during the crisis, and to ramp back up to full research operations once physical distancing measures are lifted. This will cover up to 75 per cent of total eligible costs, and will support activities such as the safe storage of dangerous substances, and restarting data sets that were interrupted during the pandemic.

April 23 – Prime Minister announces new support for COVID-19 medical research and vaccine development

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced more than $1 billion in support of a national medical research strategy to fight COVID-19 that includes vaccine development, the production of treatments, and tracking of the virus. This new funding builds on the $275 million investment for coronavirus research and medical countermeasures announced in March.

The Government of Canada will invest in new medical countermeasures to better understand COVID-19, and develop the infrastructure needed to fight the virus here in Canada. This includes:

  • The establishment of the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force that will operate under the direction of a leadership group, which will include Dr. David Naylor, Dr. Catherine Hankins, Dr. Tim Evans, Dr. Theresa Tam, and Dr. Mona Nemer. The task force will establish priorities and oversee the coordination of a series of country-wide blood test surveys that will tell us how widely the virus has spread in Canada and provide reliable estimates of potential immunity and vulnerabilities in Canadian populations.
  • $40 million for the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network (CanCOGeN), led by Genome Canada, to coordinate a COVID-19 viral and host genome sequencing effort across Canada. This research will help track the virus, its different strains, and how it makes people sick in different ways, providing valuable information to public health authorities and decision-makers as they put in place measures to control the pandemic. The results of this work will be available to researchers globally to support additional research, including Canadian vaccine development efforts.
  • $23 million for the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) to accelerate development of a vaccine against COVID-19. This funding will support pre-clinical testing and clinical trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, essential steps to ensuring that vaccines are effective and safe for human use.
  • $29 million for the National Research Council of Canada to begin the second phase of critical upgrades to its Human Health Therapeutics facility in Montréal. Building on ongoing work to ready the facility for the production of vaccines for clinical trials, this funding will support operations to maintain the facility, as well as provide infrastructure to prepare vials for individual doses as soon as a vaccine becomes available.
  • $600 million, through the Strategic Innovation Fund, over two years to support COVID-19 vaccine and therapy clinical trials led by the private sector, and Canadian biomanufacturing opportunities.
  • $10 million for a Canadian data monitoring initiative so we can coordinate and share pandemic-related data across the country to enhance Canada’s response to COVID-19.
  • $10.3 million over two years, and $5 million ongoing, to support the Canadian Immunization Research Network in conducting vaccine-related research and clinical trials, and to enhance Canada’s capacity to monitor vaccine safety and effectiveness.
  • $114.9 million through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for research projects that will accelerate the development, testing, and implementation of medical and social countermeasures to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19, as well as its social and health impacts.

March 23 – Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Science to Fight COVID-19

The Prime Minister announced support to quickly mobilize Canadian researchers to support countermeasures to combat COVID-19, including vaccines and other treatments.  He outlined some projects that would be funded under the previously announced $275 million initiative:

  • $192 million in new projects that will be prioritized under the new Strategic Innovation Fund COVID-19 stream to deliver direct support to Canadian companies for large-scale projects. These companies include AbCellera and Medicago.
  • $23 million for the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization – International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac)
  • $15 million for the National Research Council of Canada to upgrade its Human Health Therapeutics facility.
  • Support for BlueDot, a Toronto-based digital health firm, with a newly-developed global early warning technology for infectious diseases.

March 19 – Government of Canada funds 49 additional COVID-19 research projects

A list of funded projects can be found here.

Fellow who received funding in this round:

  • Guy Boivin (Université Laval)
  • Timothy Caulfield (University of Alberta)
  • Shaf Keshavjee (Unity Health Toronto)

March 11 – Prime Minister outlines Canada’s COVID-19 response

The Prime Minister announced a whole-of-government response to COVID-19 through a $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund.  This included:

  • Enhancing Canada’s capacity in research and development, including research on medical countermeasures, including antivirals, vaccine development and support for clinical trials, by providing $275 million in additional funding building on top of the recent $27 million announcement to fund coronavirus research in Canada.

March 6 – Government of Canada invests $27M in coronavirus research.

A list of funded projects can be found here.  Further information about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Rapid Research Funding Opportunity can be found here.

Fellows who received funding:

  • Scott Halperin (Dalhousie University
  • Prabhat Jha (Unity Health Toronto)
  • Ronald Labonte (University of Ottawa)
  • Kelley Lee (Simon Fraser University)
  • Haibo Zhang (Unity Health Toronto)