Since the start of the ongoing global pandemic, scientists and researchers around the globe have been racing to develop tests and vaccines to limit the spread and protect people against the novel coronavirus which has killed nearly 2,000 Canadians and almost 200,000 people worldwide.
Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the federal government is developing a $1.1 billion strategy for medical research to help combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The plan will help scientists and health experts understand the virus and provide insights on how to defeat the deadly virus.
“The better we understand this virus, its spread and its impact on different people, the better we can fight it and eventually defeat it,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The funding will be allocated into three components:
- $115 million for research into vaccines and treatments, being developed in hospitals and universities in Canada
- $662 million in research on how brain and airway cells are affected by the virus and for clinical trials in Canada
- $350 million to expand national testing, data-monitoring, tracking and modelling for COVID-19 in Canada
In addition, Prime Minister Trudeau also announced today the creation of a COVID-19 immunity task force. He says that the task force will be working to determine how many people have COVID-19 beyond those who have been already tested, whether those who have recovered from the virus are immune, as well as how long that immunity, if any, will last.
It was also mentioned that Dr. David Naylor, a physician and medical researcher, will be a part of the task force’s panel. Additionally, Dr. David Naylor has experience in chairing the committee that reviewed Canada’s response to the SARS outbreak in 2003.
Increased National Testing of COVID-19
In his daily update to Canadians from Rideau Cottage, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that testing is ‘key’ in the fight against COVID-19 and as more tests are done the faster we can resume normal activities.
“Testing must increase even further before we can reopen and restart our normal activities as a country,” said the Prime Minister.
Presently, he said that 20,000 COVID-19 tests are taking place every day. To date, more than 620,000 people in Canada have been tested for COVID-19.
As part of the new scientific strategy, over one million Canadians will be tested for COVID-19 over the next two years.
Across the country, premiers are beginning the framework for reopening in early May for provinces like Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island, where the spread of the virus is minimal as compared to hot spots like Ontario and Quebec.
Prime minister Trudeau said that lessons will be learned from regions of Canada that start loosening restrictions at different times.
The measures announced today support the previous efforts that were announced by the federal government earlier in the year to support Canada’s scientific community in the fight against the deadly pandemic.
This new funding came in addition to ongoing increases to lab testing capacity and Canada-wide health surveillance.
In mid-March, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $275 million in funding for research as part of the first emergency aid package.
Later in the month, the federal government developed a new strategic innovation fund providing another $192 million to specific companies and research institutions to develop new drugs and vaccines.
The federal government has also provided $52 million in funding through national granting councils to almost 100 research teams across the country.
Based on the Government of Canada website, as of April 2, there have been 96 research teams supported from across the country working on coronavirus research.
The government has also called out to Canadian life-science companies, universities, colleges, and polytechnic institutions to play a role as well similar to what was done with the mobilization of Canadian manufacturers, to contribute to the fight against COVID-19. Prime minister Trudeau said in an update earlier this week that more than 500 firms have offered ideas for innovations to help Canada through the pandemic.
The government says it has shifted the country’s entire industrial policy to focus on the COVID-19 fight, including reprioritizing existing innovation and research programs and on fast-tracking the creation and getting the diagnostic testing products and other disease-tracking technology to market.
The new funding today towards more research into developing and producing vaccines and treatments in Canada, an effort to offset what Prime Minister Trudeau expects will be a supply and demand struggle similar to that seen for personal protective equipment.
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