As millions of Canadians get vaccinated against COVID-19, the ongoing monitoring of both the effectiveness and safety of the various vaccines authorized in this country are of utmost importance.
The COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) and the Vaccine Surveillance Reference group (VSRG) are contributing to ongoing monitoring and are launching several studies relating to comprehensive vaccine surveillance efforts across Canada. Funding for these research projects is part of the $300 million that the Government of Canada has invested through the CITF since April 2020.
A consortium of Canadian organizations, including the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the Canadian Research Immunization Network (CIRN), the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and the CITF, are collaborating through the VSRG to identify needed studies that will support the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines across Canada.
“Better understanding the immune response to COVID-19 vaccination contributes to public health decision-making on the optimization of Canada’s immunization programs. Collaborations like this consortium enhance research and monitoring so we learn even more about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines as they continue to be rolled-out to Canadians,” explains Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer.
“This pan-Canadian effort is recommending that funding be awarded to a wide variety of projects,” says Dr. Scott Halperin, Principal Investigator of CIRN, who is also co-chairing the VSRG. “Some topics include monitoring the effectiveness of alternate dosing schedules and ‘mix and match’ vaccines. For example, if you get Moderna as your first dose, how effective will it be if you get Pfizer as your second?”
“Other research projects being recommended for funding will study how long antibodies from vaccines last; the safety and effectiveness of vaccines in children, people with chronic illness, and in marginalized populations; and the longer-term safety of vaccines, among many other topics,” explains Dr. Caroline Quach, Chair of NACI, who also co-chairs the VSRG.
“By drawing on priority knowledge questions identified by NACI and an inventory of COVID vaccine surveillance already underway domestically and internationally, areas of exploration were identified to inform the strategic orientation of these studies,” says Dr. Tim Evans, Executive Director of the CITF. “As such, the research projects being recommended for funding will give the federal, provincial, and territorial governments – and the public – a more complete picture of how well vaccines are working, especially among vulnerable populations. This information will help to guide vaccine use, to get us through this pandemic in the safest way possible for all Canadians.”
More information about the studies approved for funding will be forthcoming. Currently, several projects have been recommended by the VSRG and the CITF’s Executive Committee and are pending final approval from PHAC before publicly discussing the projects in detail.
About the Vaccine Surveillance Reference Group
The Vaccine Surveillance Reference Group (VSRG) supports the monitoring of the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in Canada. It is a consortium of Canadian organizations – the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the Canadian Research Immunization Network (CIRN), the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), and the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) – working collaboratively to pool expertise on vaccine surveillance. The VSRG reports to the President of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and is supported by the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) Secretariat. It is co-chaired by the leaders of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and the Canadian Immunization Research Network (CIRN). Among its responsibilities, the VSRG, through the CITF Executive Committee, makes recommendations to PHAC on funding research teams that can address important aspects of the immune response, safety, and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines with public health relevance and with attention to all priority groups. For more information visit: covid19immunitytaskforce.ca/vaccine-surveillance-reference-group-vsrg/
COVID-19 Immunity Task Force Secretariat
Rebecca Burns, Cell: +1.438.871.8763
Caroline Phaneuf, Cell: +1.514.444.4532