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For Immediate Release - Government of Canada invests in new research to address COVID-19 variants

March 26, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

The Government of Canada continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 virus variants of concern that have been identified in Canada and is working to better understand these variants and their impact on the health of Canadians and our public health measures.
To further accelerate efforts to understand and respond to the virus variants, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, today announced an investment of $14.3 million from the Government of Canada, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), to support new research on the COVID-19 virus variants. This includes $5.3 million in supplementary funding for 90 ongoing COVID-19 projects and $9 million for a new national network that will coordinate and align variants research throughout the country.
The Coronavirus Variants Rapid Response Network, or CoVaRR-Net, will be led by Dr. Marc-André Langlois from the University of Ottawa. Dr. Langlois and his team will collaborate with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Lab (NML), the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network (CanCOGeN), provincial and territorial public health labs, and other national and international bodies. CoVaRR-Net will enable the rapid assessment of both the immune response to the virus variants and whether these variants are resistant to existing vaccines. The findings will provide decision makers with guidance regarding drug therapy, vaccine effectiveness, and other public health strategies.
This initiative is part of the Government of Canada $53 million investment in an integrated Variants of Concern Strategy to rapidly scale up surveillance, sequencing and research efforts.The Strategy is a partnership between the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory, Health Canada, Genome Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

“We are investing in this research to accelerate our understanding of the COVID-19 variants and determine how we may need to adjust our strategies for protecting the safety of Canadians. The results will contribute to global efforts to address the variants of the virus that have emerged and provide key evidence to support our response in Canada.”
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

Quick facts
• The funding announced today is in addition to the approximately $250 million that CIHR has invested to date in over 400 other COVID research projects.
• CIHR will support additional research related to variants and other COVID-19 priorities, including through an ongoing competition that will invest up to $119 million more in COVID-19 research.
• These investments are in addition to the $40 million the Government of Canada contributed to support the creation of CanCOGeN in April 2020, to help understand the genetic variations of the virus as it evolves.
Associated links
COVID-19 variants
Canada’s Variants of Concern Strategy
COVID-19 research
NML Article: Cracking the COVID-19 Code

Cole Davidson    3/26/2021


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