BC research teams undertaking critical COVID-19 research

8 June 2020

How has COVID-19 affected long-term care delivery in BC? What do COVID-19 mutations mean in a pandemic response? Are physical distancing measures effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19? These are some of the questions the first 10 MSFHR COVID-19 Research Response Fund teams are tackling to further BC’s understanding and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These projects will have results available in time to inform public health responses by the fall and winter of 2020/21.

With $2 million in funding support from the Province of BC, the MSFHR COVID-19 Research Response Fund is designed to address immediate and emerging issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and provide necessary evidence for decision makers to support a comprehensive and coordinated response, especially with respect to strategies for avoiding or mitigating subsequent waves of transmission.

A full list of the award recipients and research projects is available here

The funding competition had a rolling intake process, with all applications reviewed for both scientific excellence and relevance to one or more of five priority areas established with advice from BC’s Strategic Research Advisory Committee. Award recipients from the final intake will be announced by the end of June.

“These projects will provide evidence on a number of facets of the pandemic including geographic vulnerabilities to COVID-19 and how the pandemic may affect the long-term health of some British Columbians,” says Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. “The funding call from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research has been designed specifically to help decision-makers refine COVID-19 mitigation efforts for subsequent waves of the pandemic.”

The funded projects build on BC-specific capacities and strengths, draw on available expertise and resources and include cross-institution collaborations where appropriate. Each project addresses one or more of five priority areas:

Rapid evaluation and/or modelling of public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to support decisions around when to withdraw these measures or redeploy them at a future date.

BC population-specific epidemiologic support for decision-makers including the identification of strategies to prevent high burdens of illness among key/vulnerable groups (e.g., residents of long-term care facilities, inner city populations, Indigenous people, health care workers, etc.).

Human geographic considerations in BC including rurality, community, culture and population movement with a view to preventing transmission and mitigating effects.

The identification and mitigation of the impacts of the pandemic and pandemic response including the secondary effects on the health of the population of BC.

The impacts of rapid health service redesign and redeployment on health outcomes in BC.

“The COVID-19 Research Response Fund is just one of the ways the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research is working with the provincial government and our partners on a coordinated research response to the COVID-19 pandemic that supports BC’s urgent research needs, says MSFHR President & CEO, Dr. Bev Holmes. “We also want to ensure the evidence generated by these funded projects is available to other jurisdictions globally, and  we have signed The Wellcome Trust’s statement on data sharing during the COVID-19 outbreak, pledging open access to relevant research findings.”

Did you know? BC has a coordinated provincial health research approach to COVID-19 that is unique in Canada. It involves the coordination of assets that support health research, as well as innovative, cross-disciplinary researchers and teams who are working in the short and long term to produce the science and evidence BC needs to stay healthy, and position our province as a leader in mitigating the effects of the pandemic. Please visit the following links for more information: