Emerging COVID-19 Research Gaps and Priorities


Since March 2020, the Government of Canada has invested in research to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). This research has spanned everything from diagnostics and potential treatments to public health responses and communication strategies.

CIHR has identified research priorities in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada and other Canadian organizations, as well as international organizations such as the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R), which has played a key role in coordinating the efforts of the global scientific community during the pandemic. The focus of research has evolved to keep pace with the changing nature of the pandemic and the demand for new knowledge.

In July 2021, CIHR launched a research funding opportunity as part of a series under the banner “Emerging COVID-19 Research Gaps and Priorities.” This funding opportunity was designed to support research into the impact of COVID-19 on marginalized and vulnerable populations in Canada, including racialized and Indigenous communities, children and youth, pregnant women, and people living with HIV and mental health disorders.

CIHR approved 69 projects under this funding opportunity, representing a total investment of $26.3 million, which will be led by researchers across the country.

The following are examples of the projects funded:

  • Dr. Josephine Etowa at the University of Ottawa will aim to strengthen the capacity of health care providers to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on Black communities.
  • Dr. Upton Allen at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto will study the immune protection of COVID-19 vaccines in Black Canadian children and youth with sickle cell disease.
  • Dr. Helen-Maria Vasiliadis at Université de Sherbrooke will study ways to help people living with social anxiety disorder during the pandemic. 
  • Dr. Skye Barbic at the University of British Columbia will examine how young people are using the social media platform TikTok to learn about mental health and access mental health services during the pandemic.
  • Dr. Maria Ospina at the University of Alberta will examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and identify perspectives on future pandemic responses among Métis in Alberta.
  • Dr. Emmanuel Bujold at Université Laval will study the impact of the pandemic and COVID-19 vaccines on the health of pregnant women and the development of their babies.
  • Dr. Michael Grant at Memorial University of Newfoundland will study COVID-19 vaccine protection in people living with HIV.

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