Operating Grant : Emerging COVID-19 Research Gaps and Priorities Funding Opportunity (March 2021)

How to Apply: 

Please note that to be eligible to the competition applications must address both objectives AND respond to at least one (1) of the fifteen (15) subtopics under the six (6) research areas.

The specific objectives of this funding opportunity are to:

  1. Accelerate the availability and use of high-quality and real-time evidence and/or solutions to support Canada’s ongoing response to the pandemic in order to better prevent, detect, treat and manage COVID-19; and
  2. Generate evidence related to one or more diverse population(s), including for instance: health equity considerations, health status (e.g. high risk populations, individuals with comorbid conditions), sex and gender, a life cycle approach (from children to aging adults), and/or racialized or First Nations, Inuit, Metis and Urban Indigenous populations.

Note: It is expected that, where appropriate, projects will enhance local, national and/or international collaborative efforts, including in low- and middle-income countries, to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19 and related negative consequences.

Research Areas (6) and Subtopics (15)

  1. Variants

    This research area extends CIHR’s existing suite of investments in emerging SARS-CoV-2 variant research by providing funding to:

    • Subtopic 1: Understand the impact of the new variants on disease progression and/or severity.
    • Subtopic 2: Phenotype circulating viral variants, particularly those that may affect response to medical countermeasures (e.g. vaccine, therapeutics) and diagnostic tests.
  2. Vaccines

    This research area complements existing federal investments in vaccine safety and effectiveness research by providing funding to:

    • Subtopic 3: Determine the efficacy and long-term durability of the response of the vaccines with respect to the emerging variants of concern, with additional focus on possible immune escape mutants.
    • Subtopic 4: Determine the immune correlates of protection (humoral and cellular), which can be used to understand natural immunity and compare it to vaccine-mediated immunity.
  3. Confidence in science

    This research area is focused on building trust in public health and science by providing funding to:

    • Subtopic 5: Examine drivers of vaccine hesitancy and approaches to improve vaccine confidence.
    • Subtopic 6: Develop and test broader strategies that can be used to improve uptake of public health and safety measures, including the wearing of masks and vaccines.
    • Subtopic 7: Identify approaches to improve overall trust in public health and the health care workforce among the general population and among various sub-populations in Canada.
  4. Post COVID-19 condition

    This research area is focused on identifying, defining and addressing the post COVID-19 condition (i.e. Long-COVID, Long-Haulers) to understand the biological and psychological impacts by providing funding to:

    • Subtopic 8: Understand underlying causes and biological factors, including biomarkers or biological correlates to strengthen causal links with SARS-CoV2 infection.
    • Subtopic 9: Improve recognition and diagnosis - including the heterogeneity of presentation and/or barriers resulting in under-diagnosis or misdiagnosis.
    • Subtopic 10: Understand the inter-relationship between existing comorbidities and the occurrence of the post COVID-19 condition.
    • Subtopic 11: Develop and testing treatment, including interventions that characterize and mitigate the role of immune responses in long-term persistence of inflammation.
    • Subtopic 12: Improve strategies to manage the post COVID-19 condition including understanding lessons learned for patient care both in and out of hospital and understanding related psychological, social impacts, and culturally safe care.
  5. Testing models and surveillance

    This research area is focused on improving testing models for various congregant settings, including for example schools, workplaces, border crossings, long term care homes, prisons, by providing funding to:

    • Subtopic 13: Examine testing models (e.g. olfactory; nasopharyngeal; salivary) that could be used as surveillance in different settings
    • Subtopic 14: Identify and evaluate low cost rapid diagnostic approaches that can be used in congregate settings (e.g. schools, workplaces, long term care homes, prisons).
  6. Long term care

    This research area is focused on improving preventive measures in long term care homes by providing funding to:

    • Subtopic 15: Examine the efficacy of preventive measures and how they are implemented (e.g. implementing updated infection prevention and control standards, reducing trips out of the home for care, approaches to address health workforce challenges)

Please note that research projects that include persons with lived and living experience from diverse communities (i.e. patient partners/engagement) are highly encouraged where applicable. As an example, researchers may consider engaging with persons with lived and living experience with post COVID-19 residual symptoms beyond the hospital setting. This recognizes that many individuals experiencing ongoing post COVID-19 residual symptoms may not have a documented history of SARS-CoV2 infection, as they were not hospitalized, did not require immediate medical attention, or did not seek a doctor's appointment as a result of initial contraction of SARS-CoV-2.

External Deadline: 
Monday, March 15, 2021
Funding Source: 
Funding Level: