Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force partners with CIHR to support 22 studies investigating COVID-19

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Press Release

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).


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:


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.


COVID-19 Immunity Task Force
Caroline Phaneuf/Rebecca Burns

Caroline cell: +1-514-778-5092

Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Primary Investigator/ Researcher
Last nameFirst nameInstitutionProject TitleCITF fundingCITF & CIHR funding
AwadallaPhilipOntario Institute for Cancer ResearchSUrveilling Prospective Population cOhorts for COVID19 pRevalence and ouTcomes in Canada (SUPPORT-Canada)$510,799$2,616,285
AzadMeghanUniversity of ManitobaRapid 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
CherryNicolaUniversity of AlbertaThe impact of COVID-19 on the health of physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers: an interprovincial cohort study$1,023,330$1,023,330
CheungAngelaUniversity Health Network (Toronto)Canadian COVID-19 Prospective Cohort Study (CanCOV)$574,975$2,687,475
DrabovichAndreiUniversity of AlbertaRational design and standardization of serology diagnostics using immunoaffinity-targeted proteomics assays$215,500$215,500
GraceDanielUniversity of TorontoEngage-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
GrantMichaelMemorial Universty of NewfoundlandCharacterization of Cellular and Humoral Immunity Against SARS-CoV-2$497,175$497,175
HwangStephenUnity Health TorontoThe COVENANT Study: COVID-19 Cohort Study of People Experiencing Homelessness in Toronto$1,901,698$1,901,698
JarviKeithSinai 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
KaufmannDanielCentre 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
LachowskyNathanUniversity of VictoriaThe 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
LangloisMarc-AndréUniversity of OttawaAnalysis of Antibody Neutralization Efficiency and Cellular Immunity in SARS-CoV-2-Positive Individuals Identified in At-Risk Individuals$512,500$2,625,000
LittleDustinRyerson UniversityA low-cost, portable, and decentralized microfluidic device for detecting SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies$235,800$235,800
MadathilSreenath ArekunnathMcGill UniversityCOVID-19 incidence rates among Canadian dentists as they return to work: a cohort study$54,285$350,226
MaguireJonathonUnity Health TorontoTARGet Kids! COVID-19 Study of Children and Families: Safe Return to School, Work, and Play$974,826$974,826
McGeerAlisonSinai Health System (Toronto)Are healthcare workers at higher risk of COVID-19 than other working adults?$1,649,000$1,649,000
NazyIshacMcMaster UniversityLong-term protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 virus in COVID-19 patients$350,000$350,000
O’ConnorDeborahSinai Health System (Toronto) / University of TorontoCan 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-ThanhCarolineCentre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-JustineREinfection in COVid-19 Estimation of Risk (RECOVER)$512,493$2,624,964
TroyerRyanUniversity of Western OntarioSimple assay to assess antibody-dependent enhancement of SARS-CoV-2$151,050$151,050
WattsTaniaUniversity of TorontoTowards a comprehensive understanding of adaptive immunity to SARS-CoV-2$259,520$1,329,250
WilsonKumananBruyère Research InstituteImmunity Passports for COVID-19: Scientific, Ethical, Policy and Design Implications$236,858$236,858