The COVID-19 Immunity Task Force’s mandate
On April 23, 2020, the Government of Canada launched the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF). The Task Force’s mandate is to catalyze, support, fund and harmonize knowledge on SARS-CoV-2 immunity for federal, provincial, and territorial decision-makers in their efforts to protect Canadians and minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Priority Areas of Research
Advancing our understanding of immunity: Is immunity a given once someone has had COVID-19? How long does it last? Are there factors that make immunity wane faster?
Collecting serologic data: How many Canadians have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, suggesting they’ve had COVID-19? Are some populations more likely to get SARS-CoV-2 and how could we better protect them?
Fine-tuning methods for accurate serologic testing: Which tests can detect the new variants? Are there antibody tests that can be developed giving us results in minutes?
Supporting research partners from across Canada in a new collaboration that will study vaccine effectiveness and safety in the population at large and in high-priority groups.
Understanding when and if the general population and sub-groups such as long-term care residents, racialized communities or Indigenous Peoples need booster shots.
Researching the safety, effectiveness and immunogenicity of vaccines in children under 12 to help inform the roll out of vaccines.
Modelling trends in the overall immunity across Canada arising from infection and vaccination.
The CITF Databank was developed to further enhance the impact of our funded studies by allowing additional research using the data collected. We centralize population-level seroprevalence estimates and harmonize individual-level data deposited in the CITF Databank to provide the research community, both in Canada and around the world, a wide variety of standardized COVID-19 data.
CITF-funded Research Results
Most CanPath study participants had infection-acquired antibodies but few suspected COVID-19
Of the 62% of participants in a CanPath study who had infection-acquired antibodies, 86% had never suspected they had previously had COVID-19. These results from the CanPath SUPPORT-Canada study “Real-world insights on COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness and risk factors for COVID-19 infection” were made public during a hybrid event on May 30th.
STOPCoV participants reported high satisfaction with digital research platform
The digital research platform used by a CITF-funded study, Safety and Efficacy of Preventative COVID Vaccines (STOPCoV), was easy to use and popular, including among those aged 70+. Although only 33% of participants (ranging in age from 30 to above 70 years) had previously participated in clinical research, 95% were very satisfied with their participation and 90% indicated that they would participate in research again.
SARS-CoV-2 monovalent mRNA vaccines are safe for those with inflammatory bowel disease
A CITF-funded study, published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, found that SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are safe for those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Injection site reactions were the most common adverse event, most common after earlier doses, but when following a 4th dose, they were significantly associated with increased antibody levels.
CITF Monthly Review
Check out past issues of our magazine CITF Monthly Review, published from December 2021 to March 2023.
SeroTracker expands its SARS-CoV-2 serosurveillance hub
CITF-funded SeroTracker has added to its knowledge hub that tracks findings from SARS-CoV-2 serosurveillance efforts worldwide and in Canada. Peruse the maps and graphs and see how many people in this country (by province & territory as well) and around the world are estimated to have been infected with or vaccinated against this coronavirus to date (based on published research).
If I had COVID-19 in the third or fourth viral waves, can I still get infected with Omicron?
Yes, the Omicron variant has been associated with an increased risk of reinfection, that is, new infections with SARS-CoV-2 in previously recovered individuals.
How long does immunity from vaccines last?
Immune responses to COVID-19 vaccination have been shown to last up to eight months, but antibody levels decrease as early as three months post-vaccination, and this decay (or waning) varies among individuals of different ages and those with underlying medical conditions.
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What is serosurveillance and why is it important?
Serosurveillance is a common way of seeing how many people have been previously infected with a certain infectious agent, in this case SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19. Blood samples from hundreds of thousands of Canadians are currently being tested to check levels of antibodies, which suggest a past infection. Serosurveillance can also help determine priority groups for vaccination and will be used to monitor the effectiveness of vaccines.
What does “vaccine surveillance” mean?
Vaccine surveillance includes studies of vaccine effectiveness (how good vaccines are at preventing severe disease, new infections, and transmission) and safety (identifying and quantifying the vaccine adverse effects). Although vaccines go through numerous trials before being approved for use, it is crucial to monitor their effectiveness and safety within a broader population and with various population groups (children, pregnant women, elderly, etc.).
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