Our Funded Research

The COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) is proud to fund Canada’s leading minds in the areas of Immune Science, Seroprevalence Studies, Optimization of Immunologic Testing, and Vaccine Surveillance. In collaboration with multiple partners, researchers are working collectively to understand seroprevalence in Canada, the nature of immunity following a SARS-CoV-2 infection or a vaccine in different priority populations, to develop improved antibody testing methods, and to help monitor vaccine safety and effectiveness. All of the studies funded by the CITF are feeding the scientific body of knowledge about COVID-19 and should contribute important data and information to support a comprehensive and coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Our funded research by category

CITF funds diverse categories of SARS-CoV-2 research across Canada from basic immune science to vaccine surveillance. This pie chart gives a basic overview of the number of studies we are funding per category, although several studies straddle multiple categories.

Our funded research by population

CITF-funded studies include a wide variety of different populations across Canada from pediatric to long-term care. This pie chart gives a basic overview of the number of studies we are funding per population. To see a list of studies by priority area of research, look below.

Our funded research covers all of Canada

The CITF aims to be as inclusive of all Canadians as possible, and that includes with respect to geography. We fund studies from coast-to-coast-to-coast across Canada. This map shows the number of research projects active in each province and territory.

An important part of our Task Force’s mandate is to share information with other researchers, the public and policy makers. We use Maelstrom, a research group based at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal that has developed a standard approach to documenting and disseminating epidemiological study metadata. The links to Maelstrom throughout our Funded Research pages will be of most interest to researchers, as for each CITF-funded study it lists: general study characteristics, targeted populations, data collection events, and data dictionaries.

We Support Research in Priority Areas

Seroprevalence

We support Seroprevalence studies focussed on assessing how many Canadians have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. People with antibodies have either likely a) had SARS-CoV-2 and have developed some form of immunity (see our Immune Mechanism area), what we call “infection-acquired immunity,” or b) have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and have what we call “vaccine-induced immunity”. Calculating seroprevalence continues to be highly important in the vaccine era. Vaccine rollout in the real world is not going to follow ‘textbook’ results, due to the rise of vaccine-resistant variants, the deviation of dosing schedules from what was used in clinical trials, and potential mix & matching of vaccines. In addition, we don’t yet know how long immunity lasts and therefore when a booster shot may be needed. Seroprevalence will therefore continue to be a useful broad mechanism to survey people’s immune responses at a macro, population level. We are managing our portfolio of supported seroprevalence studies for the greatest public health impact.
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Vaccine Surveillance

All vaccines approved in Canada go through rigorous testing during clinical trials and are given approval by Health Canada prior to use. That said, 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 CITF and the Vaccine Surveillance Reference group (VSRG) are contributing to ongoing monitoring and have launched several studies relating to comprehensive vaccine surveillance efforts across Canada. 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.
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Immune Science

Despite considerable advances in our understanding of the immune system in relation to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, there remain many questions related to understanding immunity. Individuals who become infected generate antibodies to the virus, but the evidence does not yet definitively show that antibodies are protective from future reinfection. Although studies we have funded suggest an immune response lasts up to eight months, more research must be done to ascertain the complexities of the immune response, whether it prevents re-infection, and how long that immune response will last.
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Optimization of Immunological Testing

All the work of the above priorities, be it related to monitoring trends in SARS-CoV-2 infection with immune measures and/or assessing the degree and durability of immune protection from natural infection or vaccines, is dependent on accurate measures of immunity. Ensuring precise and trustworthy immune testing is therefore central.
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See our funded reseach studies

See our funded reseach studies