Catalyze, support, harmonize

The COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, funded by the Government of Canada, brings together university, hospital and public health expertise to map the scope of coronavirus infection in Canada.

The COVID-19 Task Force aims to catalyse, support, and, where appropriate and feasible, harmonize the design and rapid implementation of population-based studies that will generate reliable estimates of SARS-CoV-2 immunity, overall and in priority populations across Canada. The Task Force will also support laboratory studies to establish the advantages and limitations of immunity testing and related technologies and will generate practical insights into the optimum ways of using and interpreting these tests.

Our Scientific Strategy, Governance & Operational Plan

We have developed a Scientific Strategy, Governance & Operational Plan outlining our mandate, scientific priorities, governance structure and the roles and responsibilities of our various stakeholders. The document outlines how we are – and will continue – helping Canada fight the COVID-19 pandemic by funding studies that will tell us more about SARS-CoV-2 infection and immunity, which in turn will inform decision-making.

Our scientific focus is on: Field Studies, Immune Science, and Testing. Our Field Studies research drives serologic data collection (How many Canadians have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, suggesting they have had COVID-19?). Our Immune Science research advances how much we know about immunity (Is immunity a given once someone has had COVID-19? How long does it last?). Our Testing research looks to fine-tune methods for procuring accurate serologic data (ex: validating dried blood spots for use in antibody testing at home). 

Read our full Scientific Strategy, Governance and Operational Plan

The COVID-19 Immunity Task Force will deliver a coordinated sero-survey agenda, and rapidly provide results to federal, provincial and territorial decision-makers as the basis for managing the COVID-19 epidemic in the near and medium term.

Purpose

Serologic Surveys

Conduct rapid pan-Canadian and regional serologic surveys that are sensitive to the fast-changing state of global science on COVID-19 immunology by Implementing a two-year program of work with the following objectives:

  • Determine the extent (incidence and prevalence) of SARS-CoV-2 in the population and in subgroups (e.g. healthcare workers and other essential workers, elderly, young adults, northern communities, Indigenous populations)
  • Understand population susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 as the basis for immunization strategies when a vaccine is available
  • Apply findings to determine the scale and scope of public health measures (e.g. self-isolation) necessary to control the spread of infection in light of other social and economic objectives
  • Participate in international studies, such as the World Health Organization’s Solidarity II study, that are advancing population-based sero-surveillance

Mandate

  • Establish priorities that form Canada’s Sero-surveillance Roadmap
  • Identify Working Groups in each priority area with leads/co-leads appointed from sites in locations across the country
  • Oversee a Secretariat charged with coordinating multi-site sero-surveys, and establishing common platforms that harmonize methods and functions for the efficient operation of sero-surveys:
  • Work in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada to establish laboratory standards and guidance for sero-surveillance so that commercial testing can be rapidly procured and deployed to sites conducting sero-surveys
  • Harmonize data collection, aggregation and reporting
  • Leverage existing biobanks for specimen storage; determine requirement for any additional biobanks and establish, if necessary
  • Mobilize laboratory networks and support testing capacity
  • Manage calls for proposals and administering a rapid and high-quality review process
  • Establish efficient methods for ethics approval of proposals
  • Report to governments on findings and interpretation in the context of emerging science
  • Connect into the World Health Organization’s Solidarity II study to contribute Canadian data and learn from other participating countries.